The Ghent hospitals will not receive asylum seekers. The federal government had launched a call to free up space for refugees, but that space is simply not available in the University Hospital and the other Ghent hospitals. “Our buildings are already being used to their maximum potential.”
The federal government is looking for 2,000 to 4,000 additional temporary shelter places, but the search is not going well. That is why Minister of Health Frank Vandenbroucke (Vooruit) sent a letter to more than a hundred recognized hospitals in our country, asking them to temporarily free up space for refugees.
READ ALSO. Government wants to accommodate asylum seekers in hospitals
But the Ghent hospitals have no room, it turns out. “We have not yet been able to view the letter in detail,” says Karlien Wouters, spokesperson for Ghent University Hospital. “But we assume that the minister is looking for vacant wings or buildings. We don’t have that in our hospital at the moment. All buildings are used to their maximum potential, especially in preparation for the construction of our new hospital. Unfortunately, we will not be able to create shelters now.”
“This is not possible for us either,” says Josse Abrahams of AZ Jan Palfijn. “We don’t have the room for it. Moreover, the little space that is available is not suitable for accommodating asylum seekers. For example, there is no kitchen.”
The same sound can be heard at AZ Maria Middelares, just like at AZ Sint-Lucas. “We looked at what we can do,” says Nike Annys of AZ Sint-Lucas. “But all our infrastructure is in use. We are busy building a new wing, and that doesn’t make things any easier.”
In total, the government needs 2,000 to 4,000 additional temporary shelters. Every minister must look for this within his or her department, but that is currently very difficult.