Minister defends deal to bring orphans back from Syria: no change in policy

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Minister defends deal to bring orphans back from Syria: no change in policy

Anti-immigration MPs have criticised the government’s decision to bring two orphans, aged two and four, back to the Netherlands from a Syrian camp after their jihadi parents died. On Monday it emerged that French officials picked up the two Dutch children, who are officially in the care of the Dutch state following a court case by relatives, along with 12 French orphans and brought them back to Paris. Their mother, a Dutch Muslim convert, died earlier this year and their father, who is Belgium was killed some time ago. Foreign minister Stef Blok told MPs on Tuesday that the case was unique and that the decision to bring the children back was done for legal reasons and in the interests of the children. ‘They are very young children who have not been indoctrinated and won’t be launching any attacks here,’ Blok said. The existing policy of not bringing back the dozens of Dutch children stranded in the camps in northern Syria have not changed, Blok said. Forum voor Democracy linked the decision to an ‘irresponsible immigration policy’. How could this be in the interests of the Netherlands, party leader Thierry Baudet said. Machiel de Graaf, an MP with the anti-Islam PVV, said the decision put the Dutch at risk. ‘Our security services have warned four times that bringing back children is very dangerous, and recommend against it,’ he said. The latest report by the Dutch counter terrorism unit says children over the age of nine could present a security risk in the Netherlands. Diplomatic mission Currently, women who went to join the caliphate and who wish to come back to the Netherlands have to report to a Dutch diplomatic mission in either Iraq or Turkey. Officials say around 175 children with Dutch nationality or who can make a claim on Dutch nationality are living in the conflict zone, most of whom were born there. In January, the Dutch children’s ombudsman renewed her call to the government to bring back children who are stuck in camps in Syria because their parents supported IS. ‘The development of these children has been seriously threatened by their parents’ choices,’ she said. ‘If parents cannot protect their children, the government should step in.’


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