Thousands march in Brussels against U.N. migration pact

UNTV News   •   December 17, 2018   •   1858

Far-right supporters attend a protest against Marrakesh Migration Pact in Brussels, Belgium December 16, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Thousands of people marched in Brussels on Sunday against a U.N. pact aimed at fostering cooperation on migration, eclipsing a smaller demonstration in support of the deal, the signing of which brought down Belgium’s government last week.

Police said some 5,500 people marched in the bigger protest, organized by Flemish right wing parties in the part of the capital where main European Union institutions are located.

A separate counter-demonstration of around 1,000 people, organized by left-wing groups and non-governmental organizations, took place in the city center.

Belgian right-wing N-VA, which is the biggest party in parliament, pulled its ministers from the ruling coalition last week after Prime Minister Charles Michel refused its demand that he not sign the U.N. migration compact in Marrakesh.

Michel had secured a large parliamentary majority in favor of maintaining Belgium’s support of the U.N. text, with support from the opposition socialists and greens. Critics said the N-VA’s move was the opening shot in a campaign before federal elections in May.

The U.N. pact was agreed in July by all 193 U.N. members except the United States, but only 164 formally signed it at the meeting last Monday.

It has run into criticism from European politicians who say it could increase immigration to Europe as the bloc has turned increasingly restrictive on accepting refugees and migrants alike since a 2015 spike in arrivals.

Ten countries, mostly in formerly Communist Eastern Europe, have pulled out of the non-binding pact.

With a record 21.3 million refugees globally, the United Nations began work on the pact after more than one million people arrived in Europe in 2015, many fleeing civil war in Syria and poverty in Africa.

Additional reportin by Francois Lenoir; Reporting by Jan Strupczewski and Mark Potter

Hospital staff in Belgium stage silent protest as PM Wilmes visits

UNTV News   •   May 18, 2020

Belgian Prime Minister, Sophie Wilmes, was met by a silent protest during a non-official visit to Saint-Pierre Hospital in Brussels on Saturday (May 16).

A video obtained by Reuters showed medical staff wearing protective equipment standing silent in two rows and turning their backs as the Prime Minister arrived in a car.

The workers staged the protest to call for increased acknowledgement of their efforts and against a decree to recruit unqualified staff to carry out nursing activities, according to local media.

Belgian schools will partially reopen and markets, museums and zoos will also be allowed to operate again from Monday (May 18), Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes said on Wednesday (May 13), in a further easing of the country’s two-month coronavirus lockdown.

Belgium, with a population of 11.5 million, is among the European nations worst hit by COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus, but it began a phased easing of the restrictions at the start of May.

The country has so far reported 54,989 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 9,005 deaths. (Reuters)

(Production: Oleksandr Ieltsov, Hanna Rantala, Gabriela Boccaccio)

Heatwave hits Brussels with temperature over 30 degrees

Robie de Guzman   •   June 25, 2019

Various people filling water bottles at a fountain | Courtesy : Reuters

Temperatures soared in Brussels on Monday (June 24) kicking off a heatwave with temperatures of 32 degrees Celsius expected in the Belgian capital from Tuesday, up to 34 degrees in the north of the country.

The Belgian Royal Meteorological Institute said high temperatures were caused by the circulation of subtropical air between a depression located over the Atlantic Ocean and an anticyclone covering an area ranging from Iceland to Russia.

On its website, the Walloon government issued a series of recommendations including drinking more than a liter of water per day and avoiding alcohol, closing the windows and curtains in rooms exposed to the sun, wearing light clothes and a hat.

The Brussels regional government wrote on Twitter that pollution levels will increase but not go beyond the 180 micrograms per cubic meter threshold above which the public has to be informed of risks. (REUTERS)

Brussels gets ready to host the NATO leaders’ summit

admin   •   July 10, 2018

 

NATO flag via REUTERS/Yves Herman

Residents in Brussels may notice getting around the city will be more difficult than usual in the coming days as a result of a NATO leaders summit to be held in the Belgian capital on July 11 and 12.

Increased security and blocked off roads were expected to slow the flow of traffic as the heads of state arrive in the city from Tuesday evening (July 10).

If some Brussels residents, like Frenchman Pierre Boucrot who lives in Brussels, said the summits can cause irritation for people living in the city, others said they were already used to these changes because they are common in the capital of the European Union.

Some protests were also expected by anti-U.S. President Donald Trump demonstrators, and security was expected to be high in the city, even if Brussels resident Jean Caluvar said he would not demonstrate against Trump as he believes the president he is a man who can follow through on his promises.

In the first biennial summit in NATO’s new billion-dollar headquarters, the meeting will bring together more than 40 heads of government including the 29 allies and non-member partners from Finland to Afghanistan, underlining the organisation’s reach. —Reuters

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