Belgium ordered to bring ten children of IS members back from Syria, but not their parents

Belgium ordered to bring ten children of IS members back from Syria, but not their parents
Belgian authorities fear for the fate of some 80 children of Syrian fighters from Belgium, who may be residing in territories occupied by Islamic State.

Belgium must provide travel and identity documents to ten children of Belgian Islamic State (IS) members in Syria in order to facilitate their return to Belgium.

The ruling on Wednesday ordered federal authorities to provide consular assistance to the children of four Belgian (IS) women, identified as Nadia Baghouri, Adel Mezroui, Jessie Van Eetvelde et Sabah Hammani, RTBF reports.

If Belgium fails to start proceedings to bring back the ten children within a period of six weeks, the court ordered it would have to pay €5,000 for each day of delay.

The four mothers are not included in the court's order, making it the first ruling to be issued solely for children, following previous rulings to repatriate two different mothers and their children.

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In its latest decision, the court judged that four IS members had travelled to "conflict territory" on their own initiative and, therefore, were not entitled to consular assistance.

The ages of the children were not made known, but a humanitarian mission by Wallonia's children's rights delegate and the head of Child Focus Belgium, who travelled to Syria in June, said that all children with a link to Belgium they could to identify in refugee camps were all under eight years old.

Belgium's official stance on the repatriation of Belgian nationals in Syria and Iraq is to repatriate all children under ten, with the cases of older children evaluated on a case-by-case basis, but Belgium's justice minister said the state would "likely" appeal the ruling, according to the Belga news agency,

"We are in the habit of appealing against such decision," Minister Koen Geens said on radio on Thursday, adding: "That children under ten can be repatriated is a decision that is very old and that we have repeatedly implemented ourselves, without judicial coercion."

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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