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Brussels Works to Repatriate 42 of Its Extremists’ Children

Brussels Works to Repatriate 42 of Its Extremists’ Children

Wednesday, 12 February, 2020 - 15:15
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Defense Philippe Goffin (Reuters)
Brussels- Abdullah Mustafa

Belgium’s government seeks to refer the issue of repatriating ISIS militants’ children to international forums.

This comes few days after Belgium assuming the rotating presidency of the Security Council over February.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Defense Philippe Goffin said this issue will be presented at UN Security Council discussions and during the Munich Forum on Global Peace and Security next week.

In statements reported by Belgian media on Tuesday, Goffin said he has concluded a visit to the Middle East region, which made him realize the situation better and know what obstacles hinder repatriating children from conflict areas.

According to remarks made from New York, Goffin affirmed that his country is trying to carry out a “comprehensive” process to repatriate the children of its fighters, who are stranded in northern Syria.

He spoke about the possibility of repatriating 42 Belgian children under the age of 10.

Most of these children, some of whom are not necessarily sons of both Belgian parents, are in al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria, which is run by the Kurds.

He warned of the difficulty and complexity of the issue since claiming that the matter is just related to traveling there and bringing the children back is “an unacceptable simplification.”

There are many obstacles that prevent the process from being completed easily, according to the minister, as the Kurdish authorities refuse to separate mothers from children, and mothers, in turn, refuse to let their children travel alone.

Among other problems Goffin highlighted are lawsuits filed by the children’s families before the Belgian courts against the state, which must be dealt with.

According to some observers in Brussels, the Belgian state, which has previously repatriated some of its fighters’ children from Syria, is still hesitant to retrieve the remaining children, in light of the moral debate and the possibility of separating them from their mothers who should be tried for being involved in terrorist acts in conflict areas.

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