Why don’t they give me an orange (identity) card like all asylum seekers in Belgium?

Nahema
7 min readSep 20, 2019

His Excellency Donald Trump
The President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20500, USA

Dear Donald Trump, President of the United States,

Last week I discovered that the ADA Red Cross Centre (the center for asylum seekers of the Red Cross in Belgium) organizes French language training at the University of Mons. A very large number of people registered and there was a list posted with an appointment with the Belgian Railways for train subscriptions. Registration and train costs are apparently entirely covered by the Red Cross.

I asked the assistant at the training office of Red Cross Belgium if I could still register too. She explained to me that the registration was closed. She advised me to contact the refugee office at any university to see if there is still the possibility of registering and covering all costs including transport.

I chose ULB. I contacted the Deskrefugees at the Student Social Service and I showed up for the appointment on Wednesday, September 18. The social worker recommended that I get a bachelor’s degree from Solvay Business School or to try some short courses in preparation for next year. For registration, I have everything I need except the “orange card” for refugees.

Some time ago I heard about the orange card, especially in relation to finding a job and opening a bank account at Belfius. As soon as I arrived at the centre I looked for work without success. Residents have shown me temping agencies in Kortrijk and Roeselare, like Werkers. Either way, I needed the orange card.

“You have to wait until you see your number on the list at the entrance. I swear to you that I looked every day and never, but really never my badge number was displayed on any list whatsoever, not even for training courses”.

So this week as part of my approach to go to ULB, I asked the residents to find out how to get this card. The residents told me that you have to go to the Red Cross desk at the city hall.

That is what I did yesterday, Thursday, September 19, in the morning. I went to the Tournai administration for the first time, with the intention of obtaining an orange card. Within the municipality, there is a very sympathetic Red Cross desk. They seem to be a very smooth work relationship with the Asylum seekers’ center. As a matter of fact, there is a special office for Red Cross residents.

I explained why I hadn’t come sooner. “it’s because I was waiting for an assistant to contact me to get the orange card, but no one told me anything about it.”

When the official started looking for my file, she did not find it. She has a filing cabinet full of dark blue refugee files. There must be thousands of files I’ve seen. There are many more files than the growing number of residents of the Red Cross asylum center (around 620 people). Some refugees were previously residents of the ADA center where they had the chance to be very well oriented rather fast towards social housing, with the orange card, and this while awaiting the decision of the Commissariat for Refugees in Brussels. The total number of refugees could be much higher than the number of residents in the asylum center, indeed. I saw two huge filing cabinets completely full of thin folders, only for this desk.

There were four desks with each their file cabinets in that office of approximately 50 square meters. So, either the migrant population consisting of refugees must be very important or perhaps it concerns dead people.

The War of Sausages

I didn’t understand why my file was missing. When she typed the details into her computer, I saw she was copying it from the annex and then she asked me if she could check the asylum center badge which contains an “SP” number which — apparently — is also known by the municipality’s system, as it allowed my file to be found on the official’s screen.

Then she remembered that my file had been discussed with her colleagues a few weeks earlier, without telling me why.

Based on what was in the computer, she started preparing an orange card, and she said that before completing this, she will have to call Brussels to find out exactly what to do, whether or not she can issue an orange card. She invited me to come back the next day.

I prayed so hard for getting refugee status, for finally changing my life. An orange card allows me to get free bus and train tickets to Brussels every day, and medical care totally free of charge. Almost everything for free, including housing. But, above all a Bachelor’s degree program followed by a Masters at Solvay Business School, that’s unaffordable for the average Belgians. Really, I love refugee life in Belgium.

I went to the commune to get there at 1:55 p. m. There, I was very well received by the same employee who said to me ‘“you have given up your asylum application 2 days ago”. Excuse-me? I have never given up my asylum application.

Then she says I missed my interview twice. I couldn’t get there because the 6:44 train was canceled, and the next one was at 6:57 AM. It was not a direct train, and I arrived at 8:45 AM at the North train station. I walking to boulevard Pacheco took another 10 or 15 minutes. Finding the entrance to the Commissariat (or the Refugee Police Station if you like), was also not easy. I found the doors closed.

Afterward, I have never received a new invitation for the first interview. I wasn’t aware of a new date either. I have not received a letter saying that my asylum application had been closed. Asylum seekers are informed by letter to submit to the lawyer, and I have not received anything. I haven’t moved from Tournai either. I wonder how I missed the new invitation.

I check every day at the reception desk at the ADA Centre to see if there is a letter for me. The Red Cross staff know me, they really help people, and if there is a letter waiting for me that I haven’t seen, they will have reported it to me. At the ADA Centre, there is a register for all the mail mainly from the Commission for Refugees, which the residents sign off every time they receive a letter. I have already received a letter from a bailiff, for example.

When I asked which department in Brussels she called with, she replied that she had not called, because she had everything on the screen. She didn’t show me the screen, but she could have spoken to me about it the first time. On the screen, it says that I would have given up my asylum application two days ago (the day I visited the ULB). According to her, the whole procedure is blocked and I had to contact an assistant at the Red Cross to restart the asylum application.

Also, note that she kept my two passport photos. I didn’t ask them back because I have no intention of giving up my orange card too. I still consider myself as a person awaiting asylum or international protection. I will inform Fedasil of my impasse and ask them how to obtain the orange card in my case.

They are leaving me without any identity papers. I will be asking to the Moroccan authorities to confiscate all the identity papers of Lucien Leuwenkroon, to give him a feel what it is like to be an undocumented migrant in someone else’s country. They should have him experience exactly the same things as he has many Moroccans experience his fascist hell in Morocco and in the whole of the European Union. It’s called “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”. That is what I am praying for right now.

May I please request your attention on this matter?

Thank you, Your Excellency Donald Trump, the President of the United States.

Nahema

Read the full letter in French to Their Majesties King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium

Read the full letter in French to Their Majesties King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium

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Nahema

I am an enterprise and a project controls analyst. I develop collaborative enterprise systems and I am investment adviser for a group of Oriental Investors.