Michaël Amara
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Belgian refugees during the First World War (France, Britain, Netherlands)
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The German invasion of Belgium in the First World War, from August to October 1914, led to the flight of more or less 1.5 million Belgian civilians. In each of the host countries, the arrival of Belgian refugees led to unprecedented humanitarian action. The relief effort for the refugees showed remarkable solidarity but demonstrated also all the characteristics of charity at that time. In the Netherlands, apart from certain industrial centres around Rotterdam or in Limburg, unemployment was high among Belgian refugees. The absorption of the Belgians into the workforce caused fewer problems in France than in Britain. In Great Britain and to a lesser extent in France, the search for jobs forced many refugees to settle in heavily populated working-class areas. The end of the war gave rise to great expectations among refugees. The vast majority were impatient to return to their families after years of absence.

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Europe on the move

Refugees in the era of the Great War


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