The region around the city of Liège in Belgium is well known for its natural beauty and camping and leisure activities. It is not where you would expect to find refugee camps.


Although I had visited many refugee camps in neighbouring countries of conflict zones, it was strange for me to see these familiar places of leisure in my home country turned into a refuge for people.


At the outbreak of the migration crisis, Caritas International helped with the organisation of the housing of 650 asylum seekers on three campsites in the region around the city of Liège. One of these sites was Camping Polleur.


Most of the refugees were from Iraq and Syria, but there were also people from Afghanistan, Albania, Russia, Serbia, Rwanda and more.


The families were housed in caravans and tents. Children played in the campground facilities, people were talking and singing in a room, children received language courses.


From a distance, it could look like people were on holidays, but they were on the phone, talking to their families they had left behind, and to calm the uncertainty of what their future home would be.


In late October, as winter approached, Caritas saw itself forced to seek an alternative solution and found housing for the refugees in collective structures such as an old castle in Scherpenheuvel.

Camping Polleur, Liège, 2015

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(update October 2020) 

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