The Government of Belgium prohibits the detention of unaccompanied children. However, age assessment processes for unaccompanied children are insufficient, which can lead to children being detained with unrelated adults in detention centres.
Children and families are held in “return houses,” which are open housing facilities considered to be alternatives to detention. However, a few families per year have been detained for short periods upon arrival or prior to departure, with a maximum time limit of 48 hours.
The government has now opened a new detention facility adjacent to the Brussels airport to detain families for longer periods. This is a major setback, as the government has not detained children and families in detention centres for more than 48 hours since 2009.