Catholic church home to Afghan asylum seekers

Published February 27, 2014
Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels and Primate of Belgium Andre-Joseph Leonard (R) meets Afghan asylum seekers at the abbey of Affligem during their march from Brussels to Ghent, to protest against Belgium's refusal to grant them residency papers.
Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels and Primate of Belgium Andre-Joseph Leonard (R) meets Afghan asylum seekers at the abbey of Affligem during their march from Brussels to Ghent, to protest against Belgium's refusal to grant them residency papers.
An asylum seeker from Afghanistan sits near tents at the Church of Saint John the Baptist at the Beguinage in central Brussels.
An asylum seeker from Afghanistan sits near tents at the Church of Saint John the Baptist at the Beguinage in central Brussels.
An asylum seeker from Afghanistan peers out of a tent at the Church of Saint John the Baptist at the Beguinage in central Brussels.
An asylum seeker from Afghanistan peers out of a tent at the Church of Saint John the Baptist at the Beguinage in central Brussels.
An Afghan asylum seeker wakes up near a stove after a night inside a tent at the Church of Saint John the Baptist at the Beguinage in central Brussels.
An Afghan asylum seeker wakes up near a stove after a night inside a tent at the Church of Saint John the Baptist at the Beguinage in central Brussels.
Khatera Shams from Kabul, Afghanistan, consoles her daughter Hadia, 5, as they sit in a tent at the Church of Saint John the Baptist at the Beguinage in central Brussels.
Khatera Shams from Kabul, Afghanistan, consoles her daughter Hadia, 5, as they sit in a tent at the Church of Saint John the Baptist at the Beguinage in central Brussels.
Farzaneh Jafali from Herat, Afghanistan, throws garbage outside a makeshift tent at the Church of Saint John the Baptist at the Beguinage in central Brussels.
Farzaneh Jafali from Herat, Afghanistan, throws garbage outside a makeshift tent at the Church of Saint John the Baptist at the Beguinage in central Brussels.
Sikh men from Afghanistan sit on their beds inside the Church of Saint John the Baptist at the Beguinage in central Brussels.
Sikh men from Afghanistan sit on their beds inside the Church of Saint John the Baptist at the Beguinage in central Brussels.
Asylum seekers from Afghanistan set up a tent inside the Church of Saint John the Baptist at the Beguinage in central Brussels.
Asylum seekers from Afghanistan set up a tent inside the Church of Saint John the Baptist at the Beguinage in central Brussels.
Hadiha Homahi, 8, from Afghanistan, displays her drawing inside the Church of Saint John the Baptist at the Beguinage in central Brussels.
Hadiha Homahi, 8, from Afghanistan, displays her drawing inside the Church of Saint John the Baptist at the Beguinage in central Brussels.
Afghan asylum seekers eat breakfast after a night inside the Church of Saint John the Baptist at the Beguinage in central Brussels.
Afghan asylum seekers eat breakfast after a night inside the Church of Saint John the Baptist at the Beguinage in central Brussels.
Afghan children take part in a drawing workshop inside the Church of Saint John the Baptist at the Beguinage in central Brussels.
Afghan children take part in a drawing workshop inside the Church of Saint John the Baptist at the Beguinage in central Brussels.

Afghan asylum seekers have been occupying a Catholic church in central Brussels to urge authorities to allow them to stay in Belgium. The group of mainly Muslim families, whose first request to stay in the country was rejected, has been eating, sleeping and teaching their children in the church for more than three months. The priest of the church said he opened the doors to the refugees because he disagreed with Belgium's current asylum policy. — Photos and text by Reuters.

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