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Belgium Strengthens Criteria for International Protection

Belgium has revised its list of non-European Union countries considered safe countries of origin, placing stricter requirements on nationals from these countries seeking international protection.

Belgium Strengthens Criteria for International Protection

The Official Journal of Belgium published the updated list, which includes Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republic of North Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, India, and Georgia.

The Office of the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons (CGRS) in Belgium explains that designating a country as safe means there is generally no persecution or serious harm. The legal situation, law enforcement, and political conditions of the country are taken into account. The new list was decided on April 7 but was only published in the Official Journal recently. These countries have been on the list since 2020, with an annual review.

Belgium has witnessed a significant number of asylum seekers in recent years, with over 100,000 people applying for protection in 2022 alone. Among them, more than 63,000 were Ukrainians with temporary protection status. Over 36,000 individuals applied for international protection, slightly fewer than in 2015 but higher than recent years. Afghanistan, Syria, Palestine, Burundi, and Eritrea remain the main countries of origin for those seeking international protection in Belgium.

While 3,853 applicants claimed to be unaccompanied minors, only 2,272 were officially recognized as such by the Guardianship Service. The majority were Afghan nationals, and approximately 93.8% were boys.

The revised list of safe countries reflects Belgium's efforts to streamline the international protection process and ensure that individuals from these countries provide stronger evidence of the specific risks they face. The move aims to maintain a fair and efficient asylum system while considering the overall conditions in the applicants' home countries.


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