Belgium must repatriate Belgian IS member and her child, court rules

Belgium must repatriate Belgian IS member and her child, court rules
A crowded tent in the refugee camp of Al-Hol, in Syria. Credit: Belga

A Belgian court has given the government 75 days to begin organising the repatriation of a Belgian woman affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) and her child from the Al-Hol refugee camp in Syria.

Belgium is expected to appeal the ruling, which is the second of its kind since October, when the same judge ordered federal authorities to bring back a different mother and her two children from another camp in the country.

The court ruled that Belgium must be able to demonstrate that steps are being taken to repatriate the woman, identified as 28-year-old L., and her child within 75 days from the day of the ruling or pay a daily fine of €2,000.

Two of the woman's children, a set of twins, have already died in Syria, and her third child is said to be malnourished and at risk of dehydration from diarrhoea, De Morgen reports.

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The third child, aged 3, recently had to have surgery because of problems with the intestines, according to the woman's lawyer, Olivia Venet.

The woman is thought to be staying in the Al-Hol camp, where international NGOs and observers have described conditions as "deplorable," since March.

She has already been sentenced in absentia by a Belgian court for travelling abroad to join a terrorist organisation, with the Flemish outlet reporting that her husband is thought to have been injured in battle and that it remains unclear whether he is dead or alive.

Following the previous repatriation order in October, Justice Minister Koen Geens said that the federal government would appeal to the ruling, keeping with the government's official stance to repatriate only some children, but no adults, from Syria or Iraq — disregarding warnings over international security and calls from top US officials to take responsibility for their country nationals.

Venet told De Morgen that she had "no doubt" that the federal government will also appeal in the case of this ruling.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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