AFP PHOTO/JOSE CENDON

Belgium to apologise for its treatment of metis children

The Prime Minister, Charles Michel (Francophone liberal), will on Thursday apologise for the way in which Belgium treated children of mixed parentage in Congo, Burundi and Rwanda.  Mr Michel will make the apology in the chamber of representatives.

The apology affects so called metis children born in the Forties and Fifties in the then Belgian Congo and in Burundi and Rwanda, two countries governed by Belgium under mandates from the League of Nations and the UN.  The children of mixed heritage were the result of relationships between Belgian colonials and black women. The Belgian state systematically removed such children from their black mothers and sent them to Belgium where in the run up to independence they ended up in orphanages or with adoptive parents.

Children were separated from their families, but were often not given Belgian nationality with all the problems that entailed. The Roman Catholic Church in Belgium apologised for its role two years ago.  Last year MPs voted a resolution calling on the government to take measures to help affected children to find their biological parents and get Belgian nationality.

Experts appointed by the UN recently urged Belgium to apologise for cruelties perpetrated during the colonial period in Congo.  So far no such apology has materialised.