28 illegal migrants were arrested at the Antwerp-Berchem train station during a large-scale police check on trains and at stations.
The checks were primarily aimed at trains that run between Brussels and Antwerp. Police hoped that the action would help to combat human trafficking, limit public nuisances at the station, and dissuade transmigrants from making the perilous crossing to the UK, Het Laatste Nieuws reports.
According to the police, so-called transit migrants – illegal immigrants who refrain from applying for asylum in Belgium but who wish to travel to the UK – continue to cause significant problems.
Estimates suggest there are over 200,000 illegal immigrants currently living in Belgium – a country of just 11 million people.
After the checks were carried out by the Federal Police alongside the Railway Police, the Public Security Directorate, and the Intervention Corps of the CSD Antwerp, 27 men and 1 woman were arrested.17 claimed to be Sudanese nationals, ten others claimed to be Eritreans, and just one claimed to be from Ethiopia.
The Immigration Office, Securail, and the public prosecutor’s office in Antwerp were also present during the campaign.
The check occurred just as smuggling operations from continental Europe into the United Kingdom appear to have increased in recent days and weeks.
Last week, just hours after 39 dead migrants were discovered in the back of a refrigerated lorry in Essex, England, nine migrants more were found alive in the back of another truck in Kent.
On Monday of this week, eight additional migrants were discovered alive in the back of a refrigerated lorry bound for the UK.