Posts Tagged ‘Belgium’

Asylum seekers in Europe left waiting, says study — Even after they live through Mediterranean journey

September 21, 2017

By the start of this year, more than half of Europe’s asylum-seeker arrivals over a two-year period had yet to be processed, a study shows. For many, the pace hinged on which nation was handling their applications.

Griechenland Lesbos Ankunft von Flüchtlingen an der Küste (DW/Diego Cupolo)

The Washington-based Pew Research Center said that permits to stay – at least temporarily – had been granted to some 40 percent of the 2.2 million who had arrived in 2015 and 2016.

By the begining of 2017, 52 percent of those who entered in the previous two years were still waiting for decisions. Only three percent had been ejected from the European country in which they had applied for protection.

Afghanistan abgeschobene Asylbewerber kehren zurück (Getty Images/AFP/W. Kohsar)An Afghan deported from Germany arriving in Kabul

Wednesday’s look at past data, based on information from the EU’s statistical agency (Eurostat) and sourced from all 28 EU members plus Switzerland and Norway, found that Germany had been relatively quick in processing applications.

Germany’s adjudication period for applicants from war-torn Syria was about three months. Belgium managed waiting times of only one month. By contrast the average Syrian waiting time in Norway had been more than a year.

Among the 650,000 Syrians who arrived in Europe over the period, only 130,000 had not received decisions by late 2016.

Longest wait for Albanians

Across the EU-plus group as a whole, Germany and Sweden had processed about half of their arrivals. The applicants who were left waiting the longest overall were Albanians.

The variations meant that asylum seekers’ prospects “largely” depended on where their applications were submitted, said Pew, intimating that Europe was far from fulfilling equal protection under UN conventions.

Also left waiting for a long time were applicants from Afghanistan and Iraq, despite conflicts in both those countries.

By late 2016, 77 percent of Afghans were waiting for first-time or final decisions on appeal; likewise 66 percent from Iraq and 77 percent from Iran.

Also left waiting were people from Kosovo (77 percent), Serbia (74 percent) Russia (72 percent), Pakistan (67 percent), Somalia (56 percent) and Nigeria (55 percent).

Half arrived in Germany

Of the 2.2 million, Germany received 1,090,000 applicants over the two years, Pew concluded. By late 2016, 49 percent of its intake was waiting for decisions.

Other nations with better than average decision rates were Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy, Pew said.

Hungary, whose government remains anti-immigrant, had the worst rate, with 94 percent of its 70,000 applicants still awaiting asylum rulings by late 2016.

Serbien Kelebija Fotoreportage Diego Cupolo an ungarischer Grenze (DW/D. Cupolo)Languishing on the Serbian-Hungarian border in 2016

ipj/rc (AP, KNA)


EU mulls longer Schengen checks to fight terror

September 14, 2017


© AFP/File | Travel in the 26-country Schengen area — which includes 22 EU countries plus non-EU Iceland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein — is normally free of border and passport controls

BRUSSELS (AFP) – The EU said Thursday it may allow countries in Europe’s passport-free Schengen zone to carry out internal border checks for an extra two years to tackle terror threats.Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said there was no longer any need for temporary checks that several countries reintroduced last year as a result of Europe’s migration crisis.

But he said the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, would present plans soon to “update” the rules when it came to security reasons, with EU sources saying that could happen in October.

 Image may contain: cloud, sky and outdoor

“The Schengen borders code may not be sufficiently adapted to address the evolving security challenges,” Avramopoulos told a news conference in Brussels after talks with EU interior ministers.

Avramopoulos cited recent deadly terror attacks in Spain and Finland, which have followed others in France, Belgium, Germany and other countries.

Travel in the 26-country Schengen area — which includes 22 EU countries plus non-EU Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein — is normally free of border and passport controls.

Under current rules, countries can reinstate ID checks at their borders with other Schengen-area states for six months when there is a terror threat, extending that for up to two years in exceptional cases.

The new plans would allow them to bring back checks for renewable two-year periods, up to a maximum total of four years, according to a copy of the proposal obtained by AFP.

France, Germany, Austria, Denmark and Norway back the plan, saying the current limits are inadequate against a “long-term terrorist threat.”

France reinstated checks for security reasons the day after the November 2015 attacks that killed 130 people in Paris, but they are due to expire at the end of next month.

Border checks introduced by Germany, Denmark, Austria, Sweden and Norway in May 2016 to deal with a huge influx of migrants into Europe from Syria and North Africa are set to expire in November.

The reintroduction of so many checks raised concerns about the collapse of the Schengen zone, seen by many in Europe as a symbol of unity and freedom.

MI5: Tens-of-thousands of radical Islamists in Britain could carry out deadly terrorist attacks.

September 1, 2017

“Of these, 3,000 are worrying for MI5”

Gilles de Kerchove

Counter-terrorism expert Gilles de Kerchove said there are more Islamic radicals living in the UK than in any other country in Europe.

He added that death cult ISIS will attempt to target nuclear power stations and air traffic control systems through a series of cyber attacks.

The expert even claimed that they could pay Russian hackers to bring the systems down.

Islamists could carry out more attacks in the UKGETTY

TERROR: Thousands of radicals could carry out more attacks across the UK and Europe

Mr de Kerchove added: “The United Kingdom has identified 20,000 to 35,000 radicals.

“Of these, 3,000 are worrying for MI5, and of those 500 are under constant and special attention.

“France has 17,000. Spain many less, but more than 5,000. In Belgium almost 500 have been to Syria and there are around 2,000 radicals or more.”

Many terrorists have been inspired by ISISGETTY

DEATH CULT: Many terrorists have been inspired by ISIS

Terrorists killed 16 bystanders in BarcelonaGETTY

HORROR: Terrorists carried out deadly attacks in Barcelona that killed 16 and left 152 injured

He went on to warn that ISIS will continue to carry out more deadly attacks in Europe, and that greater co-ordination is needed.

The worrying news comes after an alarming trend of deadly massacres across the continent.

Last month, ISIS murderers killed 16 bystanders and left 152 others injured in Barcelona’s famous La Rambla district.

The youngest victim – Brit Julian Cadman – was just seven years old.


See also:

Britain is ‘home to 35,000 Islamist fanatics’, more than any other country in Europe, top official warns

Man shot after attacking soldiers in Brussels

August 25, 2017


© Laurie Dieffembacq/Belga/AFP | Policemen stand guard the Boulevard Emile Jacqmain in the city centre of Brussels on August 25.


Latest update : 2017-08-25

A man was shot in the centre of Brussels on Friday evening after he attacked two soldiers, prosecutors said, adding that the man was in critical condition.

“With the identity that we currently have, [the suspect] is a 30-year-old man who is not known for terrorist activities,” a spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office said.

The soldiers were lightly wounded in the attack, one in the face and the other in the hand.

The crisis center said in a tweet late Friday that the situation “is under control”.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel also tweeted that “all our support is with our soldiers. Our security services remain on alert. We are following the situation closely.”

Tout notre soutien à nos militaires. Nos services de sécurité restent attentifs. Nous suivons la situation de près avec @crisiscenterBe

In June, Belgian troops shot dead a suspected suicide bomber at Brussels’ main train station. The man was later identified as a 36-year-old Moroccan national, the federal prosecutor’s office said.

The Belgian capital – home to the headquarters of both NATO and the European Union – has been on high alert since a Brussels-based Islamic State group cell organised an attack that killed 130 people in Paris in November 2015. Four months later, associates of those attackers killed 32 people in Brussels.

>> Read more: The Brussels bombers and their links to the Paris attacks

Attacks in Britain, France, Germany, Spain and Sweden have been carried out in the name of the Islamist group by other young men, many of them locals.

“Such isolated acts will continue in Brussels, in Paris and elsewhere. It’s inevitable,” Brussels security consultant Claude Moniquet, a former French agent, told broadcaster RTL shortly after the thwarted attack at Brussels central station.

With the Islamic State group under pressure in Syria – with Belgium being the most fertile European recruiting ground for foreign Islamist fighters – he said attacks in Europe may increase, though many of these would be by “amateurs” who would not manage to commit large acts of terror.


Second Barcelona terror attack suspect released

August 24, 2017

A week after two deadly attacks in Catalonia, a Spanish judge conditionally released a second suspect. Authorities expanded their search for accomplices and identified the remains of the last member of the terror cell.

People walking near a massive number of flowers and candles in Barcelona (picture-alliance/NurPhoto/X. Bonilla)

A Spanish high court judge on Thursday conditionally freed Salh El Karib, one of the living four suspects in last week’s deadly terror attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils, due to a lack of evidence against him.

El Karib was detained after police discovered that he purportedly booked plane tickets for one of the cell’s member at the cybercafe he ran in Ripoll, the town where the cell is believed to have formed.

Read more: Barcelona terror attack suspect admits larger plot

Judge Fernando Andreu ruled there was insufficient evidence to keep El Karib detained while the investigation remains ongoing. El Karib, however, will not be allowed to leave the country and will have to appear before the court once a week.

On Tuesday, the judge also freed another suspect, Mohammed Aalla, under similar conditions. Aalla’s Audi A3 was used in the Cambrils attack, although he told the court that it was only registered under his name for insurance purposes and was used by his brother, Said.

The remaining two suspects will remain in prison until their trial begins. Mohamed Houli Chemlal and Driss Oukabir, aged 21 and 28, respectively, face charges of membership in a terrorist group and murder.

The attacks last week left 15 people dead and more than 120 injured.

Police identify final suspect

Spanish police on Thursday revealed they had identified the remains of the 12th and last-remaining suspected connected to the terror cell. Youssef Aalla, the brother of  Mohammed and Said, died in last Wednesday’s accidental blast in the group’s bomb factory in Alcanar.

“Youssef Aalla is the last corpse identified in the Alcanar explosion,” Catalan regional police said. “That is the last known member of the cell,” whose remains had yet to be formally released.

Infografik Karte Barcelona Terror ENG

Altogether, eight people connected to the attacks in are dead. Five were shot and killed by police during the group’s second attack last Friday in Cambrils, including Mohammed and Said Aalla.

Younes Abouyaaqoub, who was identified as the driver in a van attack on Barcelona’s Las Ramblas promenade, was shot dead by police on Monday in Subirats, west of Barcelona.

The remaining two, Youssef Aalla and the cell’s suspected leader, imam Abdelbaki Es Satty, died in Wednesday’s house explosion, on the eve of the Barcelona, attack.Es Satty is believed to have recruited and radicalized the young Moroccan men.

Police under fire over Es Satty

Catalan police came under increasing pressure in the Spanish press after police records showed that they had no information on Islamist cleric Es Satty.

On Thursday, Joaquim Forn, a home affairs official in Catalonia’s regional government told Spanish news agency EFE that he was unaware of any investigation into Es Satty or any intelligence that the imam could pose a potential threat.

However, an anonymous source in Catalonia’s regional government told Reuters news agency that a Belgian official had warned a Catalan counterpart about Es Satty and his suspected Islamist links. The cleric had lived in the Belgian town of Vilvoorde, known as a hub for Islamic radicalization, between January and March last year.

Read more: Catalonia’s Islamic extremism problem

“The communication between the two policemen was not official. They knew each other because they had met in a police seminar,” the source said.

It remains unclear whether Catalan police followed up on the lead, although the Reuters source said there were no police documents suggesting that the police had any information on the imam.

Es Satty was, however, once ordered to leave Spain after he served a 4-year jail sentence for drug trafficking. But the order was annulled on appeal and the judge in the case ruled that the cleric’s employment record demonstrated “his efforts to integrate into Spanish society.” According to officials, the court was not presented with any evidence suggesting terrorist links.

dm/sms (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa, EFE)

Danes Find More Tainted Eggs in Food Supply Chain — Scandal has spread to 17 countries

August 17, 2017

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Danish authorities say two companies have bought 6.8 tons eggs and 108 kilograms (238 pounds) of omelet, respectively, from farms involved in the contaminated egg scandal.

The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration says in a statement that “no harmful amount” of the pesticide Fipronil, which is dangerous to human health in larger amounts, has been found in the eggs from the Netherlands and Belgium. The agency didn’t name any of the companies.

It said Thursday the two Danish companies planned to sell the eggs and omelet on to canteens, cafes and catering companies but that “Fipronil is illegal in food and the products are therefore withdrawn.”

So far, nine companies in Denmark have reported finding Fipronil-tainted eggs, the first one on Aug. 10.

The scandal has spread to 17 countries.

250,000 contaminated eggs sold in France since April: minister

August 11, 2017


© Belga/AFP/File | At least 11 countries in Europe have found eggs contaminated with the chemical fipronil since the scare emerged on August 1

PARIS (AFP) – Nearly 250,000 insecticide-contaminated eggs have been sold in France since April, but the risk for consumers is “very low,” French Agriculture Minister Stephane Travert said Friday.A first batch of 196,000 eggs, imported from Belgium, was distributed between April 16 and May 2, and was followed by a second batch of 48,000 Dutch eggs sold by the discount retailer Leader Price between July 19 and 28, Travert told RMC radio.

“The risk for human health is very low, given the levels of fipronil detected in the contaminated eggs, but also given French habits of food consumption,” Travert said.

Fipronil is a chemical used to get rid of fleas, lice and ticks from farm livestock but is banned by the European Union from use in the food industry.

At least 11 countries in Europe have found eggs contaminated with fipronil since the scare emerged on August 1.

Millions of eggs and egg-based products have been destroyed or pulled from supermarket shelves.

The episode has also unleashed finger-pointing among European countries over who is to blame and whether there was a cover up.



EU Moves For Meeting To End Tainted Eggs “Blaming and Shaming” — European Health Commissioner

August 11, 2017


© Belga/AFP / by Danny KEMP | Millions of eggs have been destroyed or removed from shelves

BRUSSELS (AFP) – The EU will call an emergency meeting of ministers over insecticide-tainted eggs, European Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis said Friday, appealing for an end to “blaming and shaming” over the scandal.

Andriukaitis told AFP he wanted the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany to stop trading accusations about who is responsible for the scare, which involves fipronil, a chemical that can be harmful to humans.

“Blaming and shaming will bring us nowhere and I want to stop this,” the Lithuanian commissioner, who also deals with food safety issues, said in response to emailed questions.

“But first things first. Our common job and our priority now is to manage the situation, gather information, focus on the analysis and lessons to be learned in view to improve our system and prevent criminal activity,” Andriukaitis said.

He added: “That is exactly what I have discussed with the German, Belgian and Dutch ministers this week. I proposed to hold a high-level meeting gathering the ministers concerned as well as the representatives of the food safety agencies in all member states involved as soon as we have all the facts available.”

Contaminated eggs have been found in at least 11 countries since the scare went public on August 1, with millions of eggs and egg-based products being pulled from supermarket shelves.

Denmark was the latest to say it had been affected, announcing that 20 contaminated tonnes of eggs imported from Belgian suppliers had been sold there.

But there have been rows among Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany — the three countries where the contaminated eggs were first discovered — about who is responsible.

– ‘Criminal’ activity –

Germany has called for action over “criminal” activity.

Belgium earlier this week accused the Netherlands of knowing about the fipronil eggs since November 2016 and failing to notify other countries, a charge the Dutch have denied.

However Belgium itself has been forced to admit that it knew about fipronil in eggs back in June but kept it secret for nearly two months because of a criminal investigation.

Dutch and Belgian investigators carried out coordinated raids on several premises on Thursday, arresting two people at a Dutch firm believed to be at the centre of the crisis.

Belgian Agriculture Minister Denis Ducarme said in a statement he was “very interested” in having a meeting of ministers from countries affected by the fipronil scandal.

Fipronil is commonly used to get rid of fleas, lice and ticks from animals but is banned by the European Union from use in the food industry. When eaten in large quantities it can harm people’s kidneys, liver and thyroid glands.

The food scare is one of the biggest to hit Europe since the 2013 horsemeat scandal when equine meat was falsely labelled and sold as other kinds of meat.

The eggs scandal spread to new countries on Thursday, including into eastern Europe for the first time as a tonne of contaminated egg yolk was found in Romania, and 21 boxes of the tainted eggs were discovered in Slovakia.

It also reached Luxembourg, while Britain said it had imported 700,000 eggs from Dutch farms linked to the scandal — far more than the 21,000 first thought.

But the Danish find of 20 tonnes of tainted eggs was one of the biggest.

Danish food authorities said contaminated boiled and peeled eggs were mostly sold to cafes and caterers, stressing that the level of the insecticide in the eggs was too low to pose a health risk to humans.

by Danny KEMP
See also:
Supermarkets blamed for egg scandal as it emerges ‘British only’ policy excludes pre-prepared food
Image result for British supermarkets, photos
Around 700,000 potentially infected eggs have been distributed from the Netherlands to Britain and may have already been eaten by consumers, food safety watchdogs confirmed CREDIT: MATT CARDY

Supermarkets urgently recall salads and sandwiches after 700,000 contaminated eggs enter Britain

August 10, 2017

The Telegraph

Around 700,000 eggs from Dutch farms implicated in a contamination scare CREDIT:  


Around 700,000 eggs implicated in a contamination scare have been distributed to Britain and may have already been eaten by consumers, it has emerged.

 Image result for European chicken farm CREDIT LAURENT GILLIERON

The Food Standards Agency previously said a total of 21,000 eggs contaminated with a chemical called fipronil had come from the Netherlands to the UK, but today substantially revised its estimate.

In large quantities, fipronil, is considered to be “moderately hazardous” according to the World Health Organisation, and can have dangerous affects on people’s kidneys, liver and thyroid glands.

Contaminated eggs being destroyed

Eggs being destroyed

Asda, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s are all urgently recalling millions of fresh salads, sandwiches and fillers which contain the infected eggs.

Fresh eggs are largely unaffected, with contaminated eggs instead present in processed foods in which they are one ingredient among many others, mostly used in sandwich fillings or other chilled foods.

The eggs were imported to the UK between March and June, the Food Standards Agency said.

A spokesman admitted that the infected products would no longer be within their expiry date, meaning they would have already been eaten.

The FSA insisted there was “unlikely” to be a risk to public health but admitted it was still investigating the distribution of the eggs.

An FSA spokesman said: “The decision to withdraw these products is not due to food safety concerns, but is based on the fact that Fipronil is not authorised for use in food producing animals. The Food Standards Agency and Food Standards Scotland are committed to ensuring that food is safe, and that UK consumers have food they can trust.”

Now Dutch investigators have detained two men suspected of being involved in the illegal use of pesticide at poultry farms that sparked a massive food safety scare in several countries.

Dutch prosecutors said in a statement that the two men detained during a series of raids are directors of a company that allegedly used Fipronil in egg farms.

Though no one has been reported as falling sick, prosecutors said there is evidence that public health has been threatened by “the delivery or application of the biocide Fipronil in poultry houses in the egg sector.”

The raids in the Netherlands were carried out as part of a joint action with Belgian authorities.

Millions of eggs have been pulled from supermarket shelves in Germany as well as Belgium and the Netherlands.

Aldi and Lidl stores in Germany have already taken millions of eggs off shelves amid fears they are tainted with traces of the pesticide Fipronil.

A spokesman at the British Egg Industry Council said: “All major UK retailers stock British Lion shell eggs and tests have shown that there is no risk from British eggs.

“Most eggs imported into the UK are used by caterers, or are processed for food manufacturers and other businesses for use in products with eggs as an ingredient.

“Food manufacturers, retailers and caterers using processed egg should look for egg products produced within the British Lion Egg Products scheme.  This guarantees that they will have been made using British Lion eggs, produced to the highest standards of food safety.”

Ian Jones, chairman of British Lion Egg Processors, said:  “The major retailers are operating to double standards when it comes to eggs.  All of them stock British Lion shell eggs but they use imported eggs in many of their other foods containing eggs.

“This is just the latest of a number of food safety issues connected to eggs produced outside of the UK in recent years. Consumers clearly want retailers and food manufacturers to use good quality British ingredients that are produced to high standards of food safety, but in some prepared foods this is not the case.

Recalled Products Possibly Made With Contaminated Eggs:

More Possibly Tainted Eggs Found in Britain

August 10, 2017

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Latest on an investigation of eggs tainted with an illegal pesticide in Europe (all times local):

3:30 p.m.

British food safety authorities say far more eggs possibly tainted with the pesticide Fipronil have been imported to the United Kingdom from elsewhere in Europe than previously thought. But they say the number is a tiny fraction of the eggs consumed each year in the country.

The Food Standards Agency says it’s likely that the number of eggs that have come to the UK is closer to 700,000 than the 21,000 officials previously believed had been imported.

The agency has issued a list of recalled processed foods including sandwiches and salads in which the eggs were found, but added that many eggs were mixed with other eggs from unaffected farms, so any Fipronil residues would be diluted.

The agency says that 85 percent of eggs eaten in the United Kingdom are laid there and “we have no evidence that eggs laid in the UK are contaminated or that Fipronil has been used inappropriately in the UK.”

Millions of eggs have been pulled from supermarket shelves across Europe but no illnesses have been reported.


2:45 p.m.

Dutch investigators have detained two men suspected of being involved in the illegal use of pesticide at poultry farms that sparked a massive food safety scare in several countries.

Dutch prosecutors said in a statement Thursday that the two men detained during a series of raids are directors of a company that allegedly used Fipronil in egg farms.

Though no illnesses have been reported, prosecutors said there is evidence that public health has been threatened by “the delivery or application of the biocide Fipronil in poultry houses in the egg sector.”

The raids in the Netherlands were carried out as part of a joint action with Belgian authorities.

Millions of eggs have been pulled from supermarket shelves in Germany as well as Belgium and the Netherlands.


3 p.m.

Dutch and Belgian authorities are carrying out raids as part of a criminal investigation into the illegal use of pesticide at poultry farms.

Marieke van der Molen of the Dutch National Prosecutor’s Office says investigators from the country’s food safety watchdog are conducting the raids in the Netherlands. She did not provide details on which companies or individuals were targeted.

Van der Molen says the Dutch raids on Thursday are part of a joint action with Belgian authorities.

Dozens of producers in the two countries are being investigated for eggs containing Fipronil, which is potentially dangerous. However, no cases have been reported of people falling sick.

As a result of the scandal, millions of eggs have been pulled from supermarket shelves in Germany as well as Belgium and the Netherlands.