This morning, Monday 1 February, a charter plane with 111 Iraqi refugees departed from Brussels to Baghdad. It is the first time that an European Country repatriates Iraq nationals.
According to the Belgian State Secretary for Asylum and Migration Theo Francken, the refugees voluntary decided to give up waiting for asylum in Belgium and to come back home.
“It is a voluntary return. It is not an expulsion. People want to leave, so we make it easier for them,” Francken said to the RTBF broadcaster.
The Belgian immigration authorities regard Iraqis not as refugees, but as economic migrants. Most migrants arriving in Belgium are from Iraq, mostly from Baghdad. They are mainly men aged 25-45.