A huge case of human trafficking and economic exploitation came to light this summer, at a construction site of chemical company Borealis at the port of Antwerp. 174 victims came forward. According to Belgian law, they had to be taken into protection immediately. Unfortunately two months after the outbreak, there was still no help for most of the victims.
Qatar In Belgium is a short documentary about this case by Docwerkers VZW – a team of filmmakers who want to create public debate and connection around social and ecological challenges – about the workers who were exploited on a building site at the port of Antwerp (Borealis case) and how they fought together to demand their rights. The documentary follows the group of Bengali and Turkish workers during their struggle for recognition and asks questions about the responsibility of companies that outsource their work through subcontracting.
The victims of the Borealis case have been assisted by LSI’s member Payoke in Belgium. Payoke is helping all people who have protected status, 96 in total. More than half of them are already working again and housed and the organisation is slowly making the shift towards individual counselling.
The large amount of exploited persons that needed help has created quite some funding and capacity challenges for the organisation and other stakeholders, revealing also that current existing structures in Belgium and most likely in all European countries – are not sufficiently prepared to assist large groups of exploited workers, which needs to receive more attention.