KLM refused to be involved in kids' deportation to Armenia

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

KLM refused too cooperate last year in the deportation of child asylum seekers Lili and Howick. The Dutch airline canceled their tickets one night before they were set to be on a flight to Armenia, according to a report from the Justice and Security Inspectorate, NOS reports.

The night before Lili and Howick's scheduled deportation, the director of KLM called the director general of repatriation and deportation service DT&V. The airline director informed him that KLM would not participate in the children's deportation. 

KLM confirmed to NOS that the children's tickets were indeed canceled, but did not want to further comment on individual cases. "What we can say in a general sense is that we carry out our own risk analysis for each deportation and multiple safety aspects are taken into account." This analysis led to the decision not to fly the children to Armenia. 

After KLM canceled the tickets, DT&V managed to get new tickets for Lili and Howick from a foreign airline a day later. The children were set to board the plane at 1:15 p.m. on September 8th, but it never came that far. They disappeared the night before their flight. It later turned out that they were hiding in their grandparents' home in Wijchen.

After a storm of criticism regarding the children's impending deportation - experts and doctors called it irresponsible to send the two children to Armenia, there were accusations that the Netherlands is violating human rights, and over 100 thousand people signed a petition for the two children to stay - State Secretary Mark Harbers of Justice and Security decided to give Lili and Howick a pardon at the last minute. The children turned up a short time later. 

Their mother, who was deported without them in the summer of 2017, was given permission to return to the Netherlands and reunite with their children in April this year.