Belgium says sorry for forced removal of mixed-race children during colonial era

Belgium's Prime Minister Charles Michel delivers a speech at a plenary session of the Belgian Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, April 4, 2019.

(CNN)Belgium on Thursday apologized for the forced removal of thousands of children born to mixed-race couples during its colonial-era rule of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, and Rwanda.

Prime Minister Charles Michel issued the formal apology during a plenary session at the Belgian Parliament in Brussels with dozens of those affected watching on from the visitors' gallery.
Belgium forcibly took away thousands of mixed-race children, known as "metis," born to white settlers and black mothers in these Central African nations towards the end of its colonial rule between 1959 and 1962, a U.N. report said.
    The Catholic Church and other institutions then raised these children.
      "On behalf of the federal government, I recognize the targeted segregation and policy of forced abductions of the metis during the colonial rule over Belgian Congo and Ruanda-Urundi," Michel said using colonial-era names of the affected countries.
      "In the name of the federal government, I apologize to the metis from the period of Belgian colonization and to their families for the injustices and the suffering that they went through."
      The Catholic Church previ