Monday 09 December 2019

Aid organisations bring back 11-year-old Dutch girl from Syria

Red Cross and Red Crescent logos

The Red Cross and Red Crescent worked together to bring the girl back via Turkey. Photo: Wikimedia Commmons

An 11-year-old Dutch girl who was taken by her mother to Syria three years ago has returned to the Netherlands.

The Red Cross and Turkish Red Crescent secured the girl’s return from north-western Syria after her father reported she had been kidnapped. The foreign affairs ministry was informed of the operation but did not play an active role, NOS reported.

It is not known whereabouts in the Netherlands the girl and her father are living. Her mother, who has dual nationality, is believed to be still in Syria.

It is the first time that a child has been repatriated to the Netherlands by volunteer organisations. Justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus has said government officials will not get involved in rescue missions because of safety concerns.

An exception was made last month for two orphaned children aged two and four in northern Syria after a court named the Dutch state as their legal guardians. They were part of a group of children removed from a camp in Syria by the French authorities and transferred to the Netherlands.

The 11-year-old girl and her mother were not being detained and could leave Syria freely. It is not known if they had been recruited by a terrorist organisation.

An estimated 170 children with a Dutch connection are currently in Syria, including a small number living in detention camps.

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