Hordes of migrants have returned to a park in Brussels after they were cleared from the space ahead of the Tour de France.
Maximilian Park is notorious as a gathering place for hundreds of migrants who have reportedly been occupying it for years, a problem which has been exacerbated by a recent purge of many more migrants from nearby Brussels-North transit station.
However, in the days leading up to this year’s Tour de France, which began in Brussels on July 6, the park was cleared by police.
Belgian officials insisted the evacuation had nothing to do with the Tour, but only a day after the event moved across the border into France, the park was once again full of migrants.
“Minister Maggie De Block and Brussels mayor Philippe Close left no doubt about it last week: the ‘big cleanup’ in Maximilian Park had nothing to do with the start of the Tour de France in Brussels. But the riders are well over the border and the park is full again,” Het Nieuwsblad reports.
— Dirk Van den Bogaert (@dirkvdbogaert) July 9, 2019
“There are indeed more people in the park. This has been the case since the federal police drove everyone away from the North Station,” Mayor Close’s spokesperson told Het Nieuwsblad. “Two weeks ago there was a large police action and we provided 90 extra places at Samusocial to send people to.”
“For the rest, our approach has not changed. We go every few days with the police and the prevention service of the city and try to convince those people to leave the park. But it remains a problem.”
In 2018, government employees were ordered to avoid walking in or near Maximilian Park after a slew of robberies and attacks on city workers en route from Brussels-North station to the Flemish Administrative Center.
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