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Belgium police mark refugees with indelible ink

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Police officers patrol along the North Sea coastline in Zeebrugge, on January 28, 2016. (AFP photo)

Police in the Belgian port city of Zeebrugge have marked refugees with a number in indelible ink, a refugee support group says.

Amitiés Sans Frontières (Friendships without Borders), the support group for refugees, said refugees in Zeebrugge told them that police had arrested many of them and assigned them serial numbers.

Refugees also said street cleaners confiscated their belongings, including sleeping bags, after being arrested.

Many of the refugees at the Belgian port are seeking to cross into the UK through England’s east coast.

Loïc Fraiture of the support group said a group of refugees said that “police would regularly come and arrest them. It was not the first time …And so, there, when they are arrested, the police mark them with a number with a permanent marker on their hands, like animals."

Local police officer Philippe Tankrey said the serial numbers are used to “differentiate” the refugees. He said police had to use the numbers to “facilitate their registration” after being arrested because they don’t have papers.

Elsewhere in Bruges, police began to force refugees to wear bracelets after being criticized for the inked numbers.

Hundreds of refugees came to Zeebrugge after French authorities tightened security around the port of Calais, which is home to infamous "Jungle" refugee camp for those seeking passage across the Channel Tunnel to the UK.

Refugees enter the trailer of a truck on December 17, 2015 on the site of the Eurotunnel in Calais. (AFP photo)

Belgian police have intercepted more than 890 refugees without documents since the beginning of January.

Europe is facing an unprecedented influx of refugees who are fleeing conflict-ridden zones in Africa and the Middle East, particularly Syria.

Many blame major European powers for the unprecedented exodus, saying their policies have led to a surge in terrorism and war in the violence-hit regions, forcing more people out of their homes.

More than one million refugees have reached Europe’s shores in 2015, while over 3,700 people either died or have gone missing in their perilous journey to the continent, according to figures released by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).


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