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Homeless migrants removed from Brussels park for Tour de France, reports claim

Joe Robinson
1 Jul 2019

Local authorities state that the plan is not linked to the race starting this weekend

Belgian authorities are clearing a Brussels park of the homeless in a bid to maintain its image for this weekend's Tour de France Grand Depart, according to reports. The Guardian has stated that Belgian police moved 90 homeless migrants from Maximillian Park in the centre of Belgium's capital city last Friday with further plans set for this week.

A charity working with refugees in Brussels, Civic Platform, has also claimed that the police officers involved with the removal of the migrants stated it was in an attempt to prepare ahead of the Tour de France which will occupy the city for most of the week.

The reports stated that local authorities had increased funding to Samusocial, a homelessness agency, with the removed migrants set to be put into accommodation while the Grand Depart takes place. 

It is believed the agency was given approximately £150,000 to provide the additional accommodation and that the removal of migrants would spread beyond the park.

A spokesman for the Civic Platform group, Mehdi Kassou, spoke to local Belgian press to express his unease with the ongoing operation.

'The police only focused on people who were in the Maximilian Park. They had to leave. Those who were a little further away were left alone,' Kassou said.

'Our volunteers called us in panic around 10:30pm because a police operation was held at the Maximilian Park with dogs.

'We can only rejoice that places have opened to accommodate people. We can however absolutely not be thankful for the manner in which things have been carried out.

'If the reasoning is one of commercial interest or image then these places are opening up for the wrong reason and we deplore such actions.'

It is believed that Brussels has currently spent a total of €11 million ahead of hosting the opening stages of this year's race.

The Brussels mayoral office denied claims that the operation was directly linked to the Tour de France, stating that it been planned for six weeks in response to complaints from local residents following a similar removal from Brussels-Nord train station.

'We continue to look for a balance between the two groups of people involved,' the spokeswoman stated.

'There are the refugees for whom we are looking for a humane solution and trying to provide a bed. And there are the local residents who want to see peace and quiet return to the park.'

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