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Afghan Asylum Seekers Set Up Camp In Belgium

Asylum seekers from Afghanistan wrap themselves in blankets outside the Grand Place in Mons, Belgium, on December 23.
Reports say scores of Afghan asylum seekers and their supporters have set up a protest camp in the Belgium town of Mons.

They are demanding to see Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo to press their case for obtaining Belgian residency permits, arguing it would be too dangerous to return to Afghanistan and the conflict there.

The demonstrators reportedly marched some 70 kilometers from Brussels to see Di Rupo, who is also Mons' mayor.

Di Rupo has been traveling abroad and was not expected to return until December 23.

The asylum seekers have set up camp in Mons' main square, which is now filled with Christmas decorations and vendors.

The Afghans previously were occupying a Brussels church and have been backed by the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Belgium, Archbishop Andre Leonard.

Based on reporting by AFP and BBC