Over 300 Belgian academics from universities across the country have signed an open letter calling for the repatriation of Belgian children in Syria, prompted by the death in April of a one-year-old Belgian in the war-torn country. “This baby is the third Belgian child to die in less than a month. These tragedies could’ve been avoided,” the letter reads.
The academics express particular concern with deteriorating conditions in the city’s overpopulated refugee camps, citing UNICEF estimates that of the 8,000 foreign children living there, 50 are Belgian.
“Most of the infant deaths are the result of malnutrition; other children die from their injuries due to a lack of medical attention” the letter continues.
The letter is being circulated through social media under the hashtag #BringthemtoEU (and its French and Dutch variants: #Ramenezles and #Brengzeterug).
Citing repatriations that have already been carried out by authorities in Sweden and Kosovo, the letter calls on Belgium to “stop the sinister countdown.”
Published in French by La Libre and in Dutch by De Morgen, the letter has so far gathered hundreds of signatures from both academics and students from universities in Gent, Leuven and Antwerp, as well as from Brussels’ Vrije and Free universities.