Child Focus says it is satisfied by a Wednesday court ruling ordering Belgium to repatriate six children from Syria. The Court ordered the State to repatriate the children, who are now at the Al-Hol refugee camp in Syrian Kurdistan, or face a penalty. The two mothers concerned are from Borgerhout.
The situation on the ground is complicated, but a solution can nevertheless be found without hurting diplomatic ties, Child Focus Director Heidi De Pauw stressed. “I am not particularly in favour of penalties, but these children’s rights are being violated. It is therefore incumbent upon Belgium to apply these rights.”
De Pauw recently visited the Al-Hol camp in northern Syria. “The quality of hygiene and nutrition there is mediocre,” she said. “The children do not go to school and foreigners are treated with hostility.”
The Child Focus director said some 15 Belgian children localised in Syria and Iraq, and whose return is being requested by one of their parents, needed to be repatriated as soon as possible, “before the situation becomes even more explosive.”
Child Focus said it would deplore any appeal by the authorities against the court’s decision and vowed, in that case, to “continue its efforts”.