THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The Dutch government performed an abrupt U-turn and said Saturday, September 8, that two Armenian children whose bid for asylum had been rejected could remain in the Netherlands.
The decision came after the children, 12-year-old Lili and her brother, 13-year-old Howick, went into hiding ahead of their expected deportations. The government faced mounting disapproval of its original refusal to let the siblings remain in the country where they have lived for a decade.
The Ministry of Justice and Security said in a written statement that while Dutch and Armenian authorities had worked hard to arrange a secure situation for the pair in Armenia, “recent developments” meant “the welfare and security of the children can no longer be sufficiently guaranteed.”
The statement added: “The state secretary has therefore, taking everything into account, decided that the children can remain in the Netherlands.”
It was not immediately clear whether their mother, who was deported to Armenia last year, would be allowed to return to join her children.
Earlier Saturday, Justice Ministry spokesman Maarten Molenbeek said the children ran away from a foster home overnight and police appealed for the public’s help in locating them. Police reported in the afternoon they had been found and were being questioned, but would be returned to foster care.