Bring Dutch kids back from Syria: Children's Ombudsman

Refugees at the Lebanon-Syria border (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/H. Murdock)Child asylum seekers (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/H. Murdock)

Children's Ombudsman Margrite Kalverboer is calling on the government to bring Dutch kids stuck in camps in Syria back to the Netherlands. "Doing nothing is unacceptable and in violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child", she said on Thursday. "The Netherlands must to everything in its power to bring these children back." ANP reports.

According ot the latest figures from the National Coordinator for Counter-terrorism and Security, around 145 children with Dutch nationality are currently in the conflict zone in Syria and Iraq. And at least 30 more children with a link to the Netherlands are in the region, but outside the battlefield. Some of the children are living in camps in Syria. These kids ended up in the region when their parents went to join the ISIS caliphate.

According to Kalverboer, the kids in the Syrian camps are living in horrible conditions and experiencing terrible things. It is time for the government to take responsibility for this, she said.

The Dutch government says it can do little because of the unsafe situation in the region, according to the news wire. Mothers who manage to get to a Dutch embassy are given help. But according to Kalverboer, getting to an embassy is virtually impossible because women are not allowed to leave the camp and no longer have valid papers. 

The Children's Ombudsman wants the government to take the children back, possibly in an international context. This issue must be raised with the European Union and United Nations, she said. 

In January Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus of Justice and Security said that the Netherlands will not retrieve jihadists' children from the region. The coalition parties were divided on the matter. 

Last year the National Coordinator for Counter-terrorism and Security said that children returning from the conflict zone in Syria and Iraq may pose a risk to the Netherlands. "Children are spoon fed extremist values and do not have to be converted", the Coordinator said in a report. "Minors in the 'caliphate' are taught from a young age that anyone who does not adhere to the correct interpretation of Islam must be slain."