Thousands of people marched in the capital of Europe against the global UN pact on migration, overshadowing a smaller march in support of the deal. The UN agreement is meant to foster international cooperation on migration. Belgian police said that about 5,500 people attended the bigger march that was organized by a Flemish far-right wing party. The demonstration was organized in the part of Brussels where main EU institutions are located. The smaller march was attended by around 1,000 people and it was organized by left-wing parties and non-governmental organizations in downtown.
Belgian right-wing party N-VA – the biggest party in parliament – pulled its ministers from the governing coalition in protest to Prime Minister Charles Michel refusing the party’s demand not to sign the UN migration pact in Marrakesh. Mr. Michel had secured extensive support for the deal including support from the opposition socialists and greens. Observers say that N-VA’s demonstration was an opening of the party’s campaign before federal elections in May.
The UN agreement on migration was agreed in July by all 193 UN members except the United States but only 164 formally signed the deal last Monday (10 December). The deal’s critics argue that the deal could increase immigration to Europe as the EU is turning more restrictive on accepting migrants and refugees. Ten EU countries have refused to sign the deal in Marrakesh despite the fact that it is not legally binding. The UN seeks to respond to the reality around the world – it is estimated that there are around 21.3 million refugees globally. The New York-based organization started working on the pact after more than one million people arrived in Europe in 2015, mostly from Syria.