Slim chance of return of Belgian toddler in hands of Syria fighters
    Share article:

    Slim chance of return of Belgian toddler in hands of Syria fighters

    Handout photo
    Handout photo

    The mother of a four-year-old child from Saint-Josse in Brussels has made a final appeal to the Belgian authorities to rescue the child, named Yasmine, from where she is being held in Syria by associates of her father, who took her there so he could join other Islamist fighters in Syria. Belgian authorities have been following the situation, but claim there is nothing they can legally do. But time is pressing: the child is living with a strict religious foster family in an area where an attack is planned by the forces loyal to president Assad.

    The last known photo of the child was taken during festivities to mark the end of Ramadan, and she looks well-looked after. She is thought to be in Idib province with a foster family, after her father died in fighting.

    He left Belgium in May last year, taking his daughter and other girl, aged fourteen, who was pregnant by him. She has since given birth and returned to Belgium.

    Yasmine has now been placed with a local family by the local warlord, who claims only an Islamic judge can order her return. But a judge has already dome so, while the warlord tries to blackmail the mother to pay thousands of euros in ransom.

    In the meanwhile, the Syrian has been dropping leaflets over the local area, warning of an impending attack. The Belgian authorities claim to be unable to act: Belgium has no diplomatic representation in the area. Her only remaining chance? For some civilian to help the child cross the nearby border into Turkey, where Belgium does have an official agreement with the government for the return of the children of Syria fighters.

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times