“Welcoming these people fleeing war, terror and bombing is a European duty”

Guest on the program “We must speak” on DH Radio on Tuesday, the Minister of Pensions and Social Inclusion Karine Lalieux (PS) assured that the state would take its responsibility in light of the influx of Ukrainian refugees and that he did not forget either the cities or the municipalities.

Russian forces’ invasion of Ukraine has forced millions of Ukrainians into exile. Among these many refugees leaving their country, 28,000 arrived in Belgium and 5,000 requested accommodation and assistance from the CPAS. But this number is likely to increase further in the near future.

Faced with this influx of Ukrainian refugees who need to be accommodated, the Federal Minister for Pensions and Social Inclusion Karine Lalieux believes that we must give ourselves the funds. “It is a European duty and obligation to welcome people fleeing war, horrors and bombs. It is women, children and the elderly who have left behind everything, including a man, a son or a brother, who are fighting against the Russians. “

Like Charleroi, some CPAS are concerned about the lack of resources to be made available to receive these refugees. “All European states have activated a directive granting temporary legal residence to Ukrainians fleeing the war. From that moment on, there are obligations that fall under the responsibility of European states. According to the 1976 law on CPAS, any person, “Those who are legally resident in our country have the right to a dignified life. We must ensure that they are placed, give them access to the labor market, to health care and to social assistance,” clarifies the socialist at Maxime Binet’s microphone.

What I decided at government level is that the federal state takes its responsibility. We do not give up on our cities and our municipalities.

Faced with this process, which recognizes the right to temporary compulsory residence for Ukrainians, some have criticized the two-pronged refugee policy in Belgium compared to other migration crises. “The European Union is deciding whether to activate the 2001 directive in the face of a massive influx. It has decided to activate it here, and therefore there are obligations. In relation to Syria, the EU has decided not to activate it, which means that Syrians leaving their country are recognized as asylum seekers, ”explains Karine Lalieux.

Currently, the majority of the 28,000 Ukrainian refugees present in our country and sent to our municipalities by the Immigration Office are Belgian nationals. “I congratulate them and we obviously need to support this solidarity. But if the refugees need help to live with dignity, they can go to CPAS. They will do a social survey and see their needs.”

Minister Lalieux says no to changing the law

What worries Flanders is that it costs too much. Prime Minister Jan Jambon (N-VA) has also asked to revise the binding law in relation to aid to the CPAS for refugees. “It will be expensive for everyone, but I do not want to change the law,” the minister assured. “What I have decided at government level is that the federal state is taking its responsibility. We are not giving up. Our cities and towns energy costs, and I have ensured that the federal state takes care of this social assistance and reimburses social assistance up to 135%, that is, we reimburse 100% of the assistance to the Ukrainian person, but also the workload (psychological care, school materials, translators, etc. .).

In the event that the war drags on and the flow of refugees continues, the question everyone is asking is whether Belgium is able to cope with a potential arrival of 200,000 refugees – at worst – after already having to deal with the migration crisis of 2014-2015. “The federal state, the regions and the municipalities are preparing and we will make sure to receive them with dignity. It is our responsibility,” Karine Lalieux concludes.

In the rest of the interview, this time devoted to the latest polls showing a decline in PS and an increase in PTB, the Socialist Minister took a hard line on the far left party by declaring that voting for this party was “vote for wind”. “.

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