NEWS BRIEFS

Asylum requests don't alter Belgium's visa policy

In contrast with other European countries confronted with a recent wave of Slovak Roma asylum seekers, Belgium does not have immediate plans to institute a visa requirement despite a similar increase in asylum seekers from Slovakia, the Belgian embassy reported

According to Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan, Belgian state authorities have recorded 103 asylum applications from Slovak citizens during the first 10 days of August, and they expect 300 more by the end of the month. They generally handle about 50 such requests per month.

Belgium has become the latest European destination for Roma fleeing social benefit cuts and other problems in Slovakia. Finland has recorded the highest number of recent asylum seekers the year (1,150), followed by Belgium (224), Denmark (215), Sweden (124), Switzerland (85), Norway (68), the Netherlands (44), Austria (11), and Ireland (7).

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