Mixed-race children born in 1940s and 50s were forcibly taken from Congolese mothers
'Belgium’s prime minister, Charles Michel, is to apologise on behalf of the state for the kidnapping of mixed-race children, who were torn from their Congolese mothers at the end of the colonial period.
The “métis” children, the product of relationships between settlers and local women, were forcibly taken to Belgium and fostered by Catholic orders, among other institutions, between 1959 and 1962.
The children, born in the 1940s and 50s, did not automatically receive Belgian nationality and often remained stateless. A majority of the fathers refused to acknowledge paternity of their children.
Two years ago, the Catholic church apologised for its role in the scandal, which affected about 20,000 children in the Belgian Congo, along with Burundi and Rwanda, which were governed by Belgium under a mandate from the League of Nations and the UN.
Last year, Belgian MPs voted in favour of a resolution calling on the government to help affected children find their biological parents.
Georges Kamanayo, a former cameraman with the public broadcaster VRT, who was a victim of the policy, told the Belgian newspaper De Standaard that the gesture from the prime minister would be the “ultimate recognition of an injustice”.
“We have felt like a third-rate Belgian for a long time,” he said. “In the colony, we were set apart from the white children. It was pure segregation. We tried to immerse ourselves in Belgium so we wouldn’t stand out.'
Read more: Belgium to apologise for kidnapping of children from Congo