Victims of Iraq bombing want compensation from Dutch state

Dutch Air Force F-16 in the Middle East
A Dutch F-16 on the ground in the Middle East. September 2015.photo: Sgt1 Eva Klijn / Defensie

At least 60 people have come forward to claim damages from the Dutch state for a bombing carried out by Dutch F-16s in Iraq in 2015 that destroyed a neighborhood of Hawija. Lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld is preparing a claim for compensation for the victims. She expects that the number of claimants will still increase, she said to Trouw. 

Zegveld is working with aid organization Al-Gad, which has been focused on the Hawija case since October. In that month Dutch news agencies NOS and NRC revealed that a bombing on an ammunition factory in Hawija, carried out by Dutch F-16 fighter jets, actually destroyed an entire neighborhood, resulting in at least 70 civilian deaths and hundreds of injuries. Al-Gad is talking to victims in Iraq and checking whether their claim is legitimate. The organization has spoke tho "thousands" of people.

"The priority is to secure evidence that these people were there during that particular night. Then comes the question of what happened to them and what the damage is. For that we collect eye witness testimony and supporting evidence." A difficult task, according to the lawyer, given that the bombing happened over four years ago. 

Lawyer Zegveld is angry that the Netherlands remained silent for so long. "Here, clearly, additional suffering was added by remaining silent. Restoration of rights is very important for these people. While after all these years they still have to prove heir damage." 

During a debate on the bombing in October, Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld insisted that Iraq is responsible for handling damages caused by the international anti-ISIS coalition. She did, however, promise a damage fund "as a sign of goodwill". A spokesperson for the Ministry would not tell Trouw about the progress of this fund or whether the Netherlands is looking for victims. The Minister will inform parliament about it next month. 

 

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