RTL Today – Due to freezing temperatures: ‘Wanteraktioun’ to be extended for three nights: Corinne Cahen

The Ministry of Family Affairs was criticised on Friday for ending the ‘Wanteraktioun’ as planned on 31 March, despite the freezing temperatures over the weekend. The ‘Wanteraktioun’ offers homeless people a place to stay during the cold winter months.

After initially pointing out that with the end of the ‘Wanteraktioun’, the management of the emergency structure at Findel Airport is automatically transferred from the Ministry of Family Affairs to the Ministry of Immigration, Minister for Family Affairs Corinne Cahen back-pedalled on Saturday and announced that the ‘Wanteraktioun’ will be extended for three additional nights.

Cahen specified that Building B, which contains 36 beds, will be reopened. The ‘Service d’Urgence Premier Appel’ from Luxembourg City will be in charge of assigning the beds to those who want to benefit from the offer. The Minister added that if more beds are needed, Building A would also be reopened.

Report by RTL Télé from Friday evening

For the past two years, the ‘Wanteraktioun’ (WAK), which normally runs from 1 December to 31 March, was extended for several months because of the pandemic. On Thursday, however, those who benefited from the initiative over the past months were told that its doors would close on Friday.

This decision drew heavy criticism, seeing as the national weather service had forecast freezing temperatures and even snowfall for the weekend. While it can be assumed that some of the about 150 homeless people who stayed at the WAK over the winter took preparations for the time after 31 March, others may struggle to cope with the temperatures below freezing point.

Around mid-March, several refugees were moved from the SHUK building in Kirchberg to the WAK in order to make room for refugees from Ukraine. These refugees will also be able to stay in the buildings of the WAK, contrary to the homeless people.

Both Corinne Cahen and the deputy director of the Immigration Directorate, Alain Bliss, confirmed to our colleagues from RTL Télé on Friday that the management of the structure automatically switches to Ministry of Immigration on 1 April. Bliss also stated that there are currently no plans to move Ukrainian refugees into the facility. This means that most of the beds used by the homeless people over the past four months remain available.

Nelson dos Reis, a streetworker for the ‘Service d’Urgence Premier Appel’, explained that the service had already been contacted by 25 people who used to stay at the WAK and were now looking for a place to stay. As the service itself only has three beds available, the best they could do is distributing sleeping bags, dos Reis stated.

Following the report by our colleagues from RTL Télé, MPs Max Hengel and Paul Galles from the Christian Social People’s Party (CSV) submitted an urgent parliamentary question to Minister for Family Affairs Corinne Cahen on Saturday morning. The MPs asked the Minister whether it should not be considered to extend the WAK, seeing as temperatures below zero are forecast until at least Monday.

The full report by RTL Télé (in Luxembourgish):