This article was originally published in English
As Belgium says it will no longer shelter single men seeking asylum, an expert explains the background to why more men are emigrating.
The Belgian government recently declared that it would temporarily stop to provide lodging for men who are aloneand seek asylum, arguing that families, women and children should be given priority.
Last Wednesday, Secretary of State Nicole de Moor stated that pressure on accommodation for asylum seekers was expected to increase in the coming months and that she wanted to “absolutely prevent children from ending up on the streets this winter”.
Instead, men who are alone will have to fend for themselves.
This has provoked an angry response from authorities in the Brussels region and Amnesty International, who are calling on the Government to change its mind. The European Commission said it would contact the Belgian Executive to discuss the matter.
There have also been backlashes against men seeking asylum in other circumstances.
When 500 men were initially transferred to the shipBibby Stockholmin the south of England, in an attempt by the British Government to avoid spending money on hotel accommodation, the issue came up repeatedly when the population was asked.
“The only problem is that so many people arrive on the ship and they are all men. Where are the families? Where are the wives and children?” one interlocutor told the BBC.
Others were more explicit.
“I’m very worried, I’m afraid, my children and I are going to the beach” in the area, said another woman. “How are we going to do it with 500 men?” she continued.
Why do men emigrate more?
According to the European Asylum Agency, male applicants accounted for 71% of asylum applications last year.
However, experts and activists point out that there are reasons why it is usually men who undertake the journey.
The teacher Nando Sigonaprofessor of International Migration and Forced Displacement at the University of Birmingham (United Kingdom), says that in many countries men are considered the main breadwinners of the family and they dedicate themselves to more public activities, such as joining the army.
“This makes them more likely to become targets in situations of political and social unrest,” he adds.
Professor Sigona added that “travel to Europe is dangerous and expensive, and raising enough money for all members to seek protection abroad is difficult, so men are often sent abroad first to secure an income from them.” to maintain the family and also a safer route to international protection through family reunification.
However, he assured that with the more restrictive measures that are being adopted in many countries against the path of family reunification, “we have seen more children and women undertake dangerous journeys and risk their lives.” “This occurs both in the case of irregular crossings in the Mediterranean and through the English Channel.”
He also indicated that the lack of communication with local communities adds to the fear felt by those who have new neighbors and know nothing about their origin.
“Asylum seekers are often housed in already poor and marginalized areas, and some local residents perceive their presence as yet another form of exclusion,” he said. “Communication with local communities is often forgotten and people are placed in zones without prior discussion,” she added.
Regarding the Belgian plan, he said that “it doesn’t seem to add up.”
“Women with children and families are a minority of people in the asylum system,” she noted. “While it is obviously important that they have shelter for the winter, it is unlikely that all single men would have to be denied shelter to house them,” she said.
In his opinion, the real objective is to “punish single applicants, further reinforcing the erroneous public perception that they abuse the system and are dangerous.”
In a document that campaign group Care4Calais hosts on its website, it is stated that “the young people seen on these boats are doing everything they can to protect their families. Their mothers, grandmothers, sisters, babies, daughters. How many times does a father say that he would die for his daughter, a husband that he would die for his wife? Well, these guys are putting it into practice.