The situation of Palestinian refugees in closed centres: an illustration of the hypocrisy of the Belgian state


Since the massive intensification of the attacks perpetrated by the State of Israel in Gaza, many Palestinian refugees have found themselves incarcerated in the Caricole detention centre. Arrested at Zaventem airport, these people have been incarcerated for several months while being subjected to lengthy and criminalising procedures. The closed centres are prison institutions whose aim is to remove the people concerned from the country, in other words to force them to return. 

Today, while there is talk of genocide, and although the recognition rate is currently 90% for Gazans, the procedures remain abnormally long, and the instructions disproportionate, even when the applicants’ documents attest and prove that they come from Gaza.

To leave Rafah, on the border with Egypt, exorbitant sums are demanded to cross (up to 10,000 euros). Families end up getting separated. They then have to find asylum elsewhere, at the cost of a rough and dangerous journey, before reaching a European country. A Europe that claims, unconvincingly, to defend human rights, but in reality imprisons victims of war.

It is unthinkable that this policy should continue to stigmatise and imprison asylum seekers whose situation is known and should not be questioned. The Dublin procedure is an example of this hypocrisy, of this refusal to take charge under the guise of the responsibilities of the first country of entry. 

It is imperative that procedures are simplified, and cases analysed more quickly, as happened in the case of Ukrainians during the Russian invasion. In this case, Directive 2001/55/EC (“on the granting of temporary protection in the event of a mass influx of displaced persons”) was even activated. Today, Palestinians still have to prove and justify their refugee status. This situation is unacceptable for anyone fleeing their country and facing such a wall of incomprehension. But the situation in Gaza is even more disturbing. The Palestinians imprisoned are demanding adequate means of contacting their families, and immediate release. 

In addition to the absolute urgency of putting in place an effective and unconditional protection system for all people arriving from Gaza, we reiterate that every human being should have the right to an international welcome, whatever the reasons for leaving their country of origin. 

For freedom of movement and settlement for all, from Gaza and elsewhere! 

Based on testimonies collected by the Getting the Voice Out collective from several Palestinian detainees at the Caricole detention centre.

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