Armenian asylum seeker deported without her kids

Protest against the deportation of Armenian kids Howick and Lili, 12 Aug 2017
Protest against the deportation of Armenian kids Howick and Lili, 12 Aug 2017Photo: @DefenceChildren / Twitter

An Armenian mother was deported from the Netherlands on Monday without her children Howick (12) and Lily (11). The family lived in the Netherlands for nine years. According to children's rights organization Defense for Children, this is the first time ever that a mother was deported without her kids. "Horrible", the organization said, according to RTL Nieuws.

On Friday Defense for Children was in court asking the judge to stop the deportation of the single mother and her two children. The kids lived in the Netherlands for nine years and have never been to Armenia. As they lived here for more than five years and are rooted in society, the organization called on the Children's Pardon. 

But the court rejected this and ruled that the family can be deported. According to immigration and naturalization service IND, the mother did not cooperate with previous attempts to deport her. She knew she had to leave, but refused to go while awaiting her appeal, according to newspaper AD. That resulted in this situation, the authorities state. And as she failed to comply with the "cooperation criteria", the Children's Pardon can be denied, according to the court. 

The mother was put on a plane to Paris on Monday, from where she traveled to Armenia. The two children are currently at an unknown address. 

In a highly unusual move, State Secretary Klaas Dijkhoff of Security and Justice, under which Asylum falls, released a statement about this case. According to him, the mother lost multiple lawsuits against their deportation since 2009. "It was always said that her stay is not legal and that she has to leave the Netherlands", he said, according to the Telegraaf. Dijkhoff blames the mother for the procedure taking so long. According to him, the decision not to grant asylum "was judged by the courts time and again and found correct."

The state secretary called the current situation "very annoying", but added that it is the mother's fault that she was sent away without her kids. "Unfortunately the mother made the decision not to leave with the children. The consequences of this was discussed in detail with her." It is very unusual for the Ministry to comment on individual asylum cases. 

The Sint Joris church in Amersfoort, which supported the Armenian family over the past years, received confirmation that the mother arrived safely in Armenia. "We have contact with an organization that is giving her shelter there and wants to guide her. Shelter was arranged for her. We are very grateful to that", pastor Willem Jan Dekker said to the Telegraaf. 

On Saturday and Sunday hundreds of people demonstrated in Amersfoort against the deportation of the Armenian children. The protests included many children from the two kids' school.