A field in Flanders, just like this, will be converted into a refugee camp for 600 people, Source: Hugo Kruip / Unsplash

Ghent starts work on emergency refugee village for Ukrainians

Ghent starts work on emergency refugee village for Ukrainians

The village, located in a field outside of the city, will help to house refugees currently living with private host families

Last week, city authorities in Ghent, Belgium, announced they would start working on an emergency refugee village for Ukrainians that is supposed to start working at the start of 2023. According to an official statement, the site should help cushion the pressure on the local housing market, which is already significantly strained.

According to a study on student housing in Ghent from last summer, there was a shortage of rental properties for approximately 10,000 students. Earlier this year, the city announced a plan to start controlling the student population, through close collaboration with universities.

Since the Russian invasion in February, around 6.6 million Ukrainians have fled the conflict with 3.8 million registered as refugees. According to data from the UN (from 16 August), there were over 52,000 refugees registered in Belgium. About 16,000 of them are registered in Flanders, according to local data.

Ghent, on the other hand, is home to just 332 Ukrainians, who, city officials explain, are mostly staying with private host families. The refugee village will reportedly be located in a field, on the outskirts of the city.

Getting ready for an influx of refugees

Work on the site will start in September, as the city claims that the village will be ready for use at the start of 2023. It will have around 200 units, which will be able to accommodate nearly 600 people.

The city will collaborate with the Flemish government on funding and constructing the village and it should help deal with the issue on a regional level. Additionally, as the war rages on, an increasing number of refugees are likely to make their way to Belgium.

Flemish Minister of Housing, Matthias Diependaele, explained that Flanders is more focused on the quality of accommodation it can provide for refugees. He pointed out that projects like this aim to ease the extra pressure on the housing market.

Bart Somers, Flemish Minister for Society and Domestic Governance added that at the moment there were enough beds in Flanders to accommodate the influx, however, no one knows how the war will progress.

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