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MESSAGE FOR U.S. CITIZENS: PERSONAL SECURITY AND DEMONSTRATIONS (19 JAN 2024)
6 MINUTE READ
January 19, 2024

U.S. citizens should be aware that demonstrations and protests remain a common phenomenon in Belgium.  While Belgian authorities often supply suitable security, it can be difficult to know when even the most peaceful protest may result in violence.  Large scale demonstrations, in particular, may prove disruptive to traffic patterns, business operations and sometimes result in conflicts between protestors and/or with police.  U.S. citizens are reminded to maintain a heightened sense of awareness while in public.  Spontaneous protests can occur, and crowds may move in unexpected directions.  Maintaining good situational awareness is key to avoid being caught in a situation with the escalating potential for danger.

The U.S. Embassy is aware of the following expected large-scale demonstration, or demonstrations of unknown size:

Saturday 01/20, from 13.30 to 17.30

Solidarity bicycle tour through Brussels

Start at Place du Trone

Number unknown

Sunday 01/21, from 14.00 to 18.00

Protest march

North station to Place Jean Rey (Justus Lipsius building)

14.00 – Assembly at North Station

14.30 – March starts via Boutanique, Small Ring road, Place Madou, Rue Joseph2 and Chaussee d’Etterbeek, to Place Jean Rey/EU Quarters

16.00 – Arrival at Place Jean Rey

17.00 – Dispersion

18.00 – End

Organizers expect 20,000 participants. Police are predicting 10,000.

U.S. citizens traveling to Belgium should review the Country Specific Information at travel.state.gov and enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) for the latest travel advice and information.

Actions to take:

  • Avoid large demonstrations.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and trust your instincts. If you see something that seems odd or out of place, immediately notify the nearest law enforcement officer and move away from the area.
  • Always carry your cellphone, programmed with local emergency numbers; Ambulance and Fire Brigade (100), Europe-wide emergency number (police)(112).
  • Exercise caution if unexpectedly in the vicinity of large gatherings or protests.
  • Follow the instructions of authorities and road signs regarding closures and detours.
  • Monitor local media for updates.
  • Keep a low profile.

Assistance: