Letter to protest deportation agreement between Belgium and Senegal

25 May 2023 – BOZA FII has written letters to the ambassador of Belgium (see below), the Senegalese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Directorate of Senegalese Abroad,  to protest the agreement Belgium has recently signed with Senegal to facilitate deportations. The Directorate of Senegalese Abroad refused to receive the letter.

Letter to the ambassador of Belgium in Senegal:

Dear Mr. Ambassador

We, BOZA FII, come to you with this letter to communicate our indignation for the recent agreements that the State of Belgium has signed with the Senegalese State.
Belgium continues to seek to sign agreements with African states to facilitate the deportation of their citizens, and this reveals the racism and xenophobia of this country. We remind you that a refugee is welcomed, an undocumented migrant is regularised, a migrant is someone that is just passing through. And that is why it is important to have embassies in foreign countries. Unfortunately, we are all called upon to do what we say today: live together. Even if we are of different races, skin colours, realities, etc.

We do not know the exact content of the protocol that was signed in Brussels, but the press reports and the press release by Nicole de Moor, Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration leave us very worried and upset. We are a Senegalese NGO active in the field of migration and we are working on this case in real time. Please be assured that we are not making unfounded statements. Voluntary return, especially at this time, can never really be voluntary, because they always happen under the threat of living as undocumented migrants, being exposed to police violence, detention and deportation.

The situation of migrants’ rights in Belgium seems to us very problematic. We read with great concern that on Wednesday 19 January 2022 the Belgian state and its Federal Agency for Asylum Seekers (FEDASIL) were condemned at the Court of First Instance in Brussels for the mismanagement of asylum seekers and the right to reception, and for violating the rights of migrants and refugees. It is also worrying that the new Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration (Sammy MAHDI), who is the son of an Iraqi refugee, has assured journalists that he wants to increase the number of closed centres and to make the deportation of migrants to their countries of origin more efficient. We, BOZA FII (Benn Kàddu-Benn Yoon), condemn his barbaric and xenophobic racist words.

Mr Mahdi declared that “we will ensure, if necessary, that those who have been told at the end of the procedure that they cannot stay, are expelled from the country”. It seems clear to us, Mr. Ambassador, that the agreement signed between Belgium and Senegal is part of this strategy, which will concern first and foremost the 35 Senegalese who you keep in your closed centres. We cannot accept that migrants and refugees living in Belgium become the scapegoats for a system of criminalisation of migrants, nor that this should be done under the banner of development aid. Moreover, we are well aware of the lack of services for Senegalese returnees once in Senegal. We ourselves had to deal with the institutional absence during a recent mass deportation from Germany. Moreover, we consider that no reintegration process can cure the brutality of a return to the country that one cannot choose.

We also want to denounce the subcontracting of the reception of asylum seekers, which has been happening in Belgium since 2015. This is business done on the skin of migrants, in line with the neoliberal trend of the progressive withdrawal of the Belgian state from social matters.
The bilateral agreements that Belgium has signed with Senegal, the DRC and Chad demonstrate the complicity of our states in receiving their nationals in total silence, in favouring mass deportations to the countries of origin, in mistreating foreigners, in violating the rights of migrants, which encourages oppression and persecution. Belgium, like other European states, is the protagonist in this process, because these bilateral agreements are just meant to facilitate Europe’s racist intention to free itself from Africans.

We can no longer be at the mercy of everyone. We also remind you that Africa is part of humanity.
And so we demand :

– The cancellation of all deportations of Africans to their countries of origin by the EU.
– The cancellation of the return agreements between Belgium and Senegal.
– The cancellation of the mistreatment of black sub-Saharans living in detention centres and in centres for migrants and refugees.
– An end to all business done on the skin of asylum seekers.
– A revision of the Dublin and asylum agreements.

Hoping that our concerns will be taken into account by the Belgian State, please receive our regards.

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