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Belgium Climate Protests: Children skip school to demonstrate

For a fourth week running, thousands of children have skipped school in Belgium to join a protest demanding tougher action against climate change.

As they marched in Brussels, dozens of youngsters staged a protest outside the home of Belgium’s environment minister.

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The protests were given new impetus by an open letter from 3,450 Belgian scientists saying “the activists are absolutely right”.

Youth marches have also taken place in Germany and Switzerland.

The Belgian primary and secondary schoolchildren were marching through the city centre from north to south, and they were joined by groups of grandparents.

As the crowds swelled, many were predicting at least as many protesters as the 35,000 who turned out a week ago.

Why are young people marching in Belgium?

Isidore Vlassenroot, 12, at school in Ghent: “I am marching because I believe we should make our voice heard as young people. It is very special to be part of such a huge crowd. We all have the same goal: a better planet. So many children wanting a better planet is something very unique. We have four ministers and no climate policy, which is very sad.”

Koen Vlassenroot, Isidore’s father: “This is a unique moment in Belgian history and I’m glad my son is part of it. We as parents have the moral duty to support them; they show the courage our generation lacked, and now stand up to protect their future and demand [politicians] act more responsibly. I agree that he is missing school, but being part of such a movement is very educational. I want my son to be conscious about challenges such as climate change.”

Luka De Wever, 17, sister of protest organiser Anuna De Wever: “All over the country, people are gathering to march and get the attention of the politicians to change their policy.

I am very proud of what my sister has done together with Kyra [Gantois, another protest organiser], Greta [Thunberg, Swedish climate-change protester] and many others. Either we act now or there will be no more time to. I believe we will be able to make a difference, not only in Belgium, but all over the world.”

Students have also been mobilising on Fridays in Germany and Switzerland, under the hashtag #FridaysForFuture.

At the weekend, tens of thousands of adult protesters marched in cities across France as well as Belgium with the aim of holding monthly events.

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Belgium Climate Protests: Children skip school to demonstrate


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