Wednesday 20 November 2019

VVD u-turn on jihadi children: we can talk about bringing them back, says MP

Children in a refugee camp. Photo: Depositphotos.com

The ruling VVD appears to have done a U-turn and may no longer oppose bringing the children of Dutch jihadis back to the Netherlands.

‘If we mean small children, then we can talk about it, because they could not do anything [about their situation], MP Dilan Yesilgöz told television chat show Pauw on Monday evening.

Their parents, however, would not be welcome in the Netherlands, Yesilgöz said.

Until now the VVD has opposed all efforts to bring back the children of Dutch jihadis and it is not clear if she was speaking on behalf of the party, or as a personal opinion.

Last week Yesilgöz was ordered to backtrack on her public backing for a ban on more types of fireworks, which went against official party policy.

The parents of the IS children currently have the right to return to the Netherlands with them, she said. But if that right is removed, then repatriating children aged up to five or six could be discussed, she said, when pressed by presenter Jeroen Pauw.

Coalition parties D66 and ChristenUnie have said before that they would like to talk about bringing the children back, but the VVD and CDA have always been opposed.

There are currently 210 children in Syria and Turkey with Dutch nationality through their parents, around a tenth of whom are thought to be older than nine.

Dutch jihadis can only return to the Netherlands if they manage to get to a Dutch embassy or consulate under their own steam.

In January, the Dutch children’s ombudsman renewed her call to the government to bring back children who are stuck in camps in Syria because their parents supported IS.

‘The development of these children has been seriously threatened by their parents’ choices,’ the ombudsman said. ‘If parents cannot protect their children, the government should step in.’

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