Brussels (Belgium), correspondence.
The information spread like wildfire in the bays of the Saint-Jean-Baptiste-au-Béguinage church in Brussels, occupied for months by undocumented migrants: according to a redacted note from its administrative file, including has had a copy of L’Humanité, Nezha, originally from Casablanca (Morocco), would not be regularized, although she has been living in Belgium for thirteen years.
“If I have a negative opinion, who will be regularized? »Laments the one who ticks all the boxes of integration:« I learned French and Dutch here, I have a promise of employment, I do volunteer work, I made masks in an association during containment. I have a brother here who has become Belgian. What should I do now? I can tell you that we are all ready to resume the hunger strike in the next few days because we had “just” suspended it in July. ”
Around the table in the cool parish hall, his lawyer, M e Marie Tancré, is stunned: “In general, when this administrative note from the Immigration Office is generated, the final decision is taken in the following days. Nezha’s is dated August 27. Nothing since. “
Hospitalized in sometimes critical conditions
“We have already announced it,” adds Tarik, the spokesperson for undocumented migrants. If a file like Nezha’s is refused, we resume our hunger strike, and it is moreover the women who will lead the movement. “
The ultimatum is therefore posed: more than 450 undocumented migrants had indeed observed a hunger strike between May 23 and July 21 in Brussels, which was concluded on a form of tacit agreement between the secretary of State of Asylum and Migration, Sammy Mahdi, and the undocumented. Many of them had been hospitalized in sometimes critical conditions, but the worst had been avoided. The Belgian federal government coalition – made up of the French-speaking and Dutch-speaking liberal, socialist and ecological parties and of the Dutch-speaking Christian Democrats – had also pitched in mid-July, after the Socialist Deputy Prime Minister, Pierre-Yves Dermagne, had informed the Prime Minister Alexander De Croo that the Socialist members of the government would resign if one of the strikers died.
The origin of a major political crisis
Under pressure from a coming crisis, the “young” government, which had taken 455 days to form after the 2019 federal elections, had decided to give up ballast, at least in form, by proposing to the strikers of hunger to study all situations, putting in place “baselines for regularizations”, but without clear criteria. Faced with this new warning, Secretary of State Sammy Mahdi hopes “that there will be no new hunger strikes because they would put the lives of these women and men in danger”. On the side of government partners, the Socialist Party believes it is “very concerned” by the context and repeats that “it will continue to act”. As for environmentalists, through the voice of Simon Moutquin, federal deputy, they confirm their “support for undocumented migrants” and want “to fight, in silence, shouting, calling out and demonstrating”. In the meantime, Nezha has returned to sleep in the Beguinage church, as she has been doing for nine months now, along with several dozen other undocumented migrants. “Imagine: I left Morocco because my husband was abusing me. Are they going to send me back to this trap? Never ! “
The undocumented migrants in Brussels do not yet imagine that their future actions could be the source of a major political crisis in Belgium. That of bringing down a government if the Socialists turned their summer words into actions in the fall.