Belgian industries keen to offer work to Syrian refugees

September 11, 2015 5:40 am 

BRUSSELS, Sept. 10 — Belgium witnessed an "unprecedented" increase in refugees seeking asylum in August, and the country is facing a backlog of almost 6,000 requests yet to be processed, official data revealed on Thursday.

The Belgian Commissioner-General for Refugees and Stateless Persons (CGRA) said 4,621 asylum applications were made last month, an increase of 55.3 percent compared with July, and up 192.5 percent on August 2014.

According to the figures, 46 percent of people seeking asylum in Belgium in August were from Iraq. CGRA said that it had never before seen so many asylum requests coming from a single country in one month.

Almost 20 percent of the applicants had come from Syria, followed by Afghanistan and Somalia, the data revealed.

CGRA said a typical monthly workload for the immigration office was 3,900 dossiers.

The European Commission will present a refugee relocation mechanism for 160,000 people to an emergency meeting of EU internal affairs ministers by Sept. 14.

Under the plan, Belgium will be expected to accommodate 5,928 refugees. Belgian newspaper L'Echo reports that the Belgian quota is the seventh largest in Europe, behind Germany, France, Spain, Poland, the Netherlands and Romania.

The newspaper explains that the quota is calculated according to gross domestic product, population size, unemployment rate and the number of asylum requests lodged in the past four years.

Flemish newspaper De Standaard reported on Thursday that several industries in the Dutch-speaking north of Belgium were keen to offer work to Syrian refugees.

According to the report, the Flemish Building Confederation (VCB) has been struggling for years to fill vacancies in the construction sector, notably in engineering.

VCB director-general Marc Dillen told De Standaard: "We find that among these refugees, there are well-educated and technically trained people. Many of them already speak English, which makes the integration easier."

The newspaper reports that trade federation Agoria is also working on a plan to hire Syrian refugees as welders, mechanics, electricians and IT specialists.

The plan will be discussed further on Sept. 11 at a meeting of the Federation of Enterprises in Belgium, De Standaard added. (PNA/Xinhua)



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