The Netherlands is not obliged to help actively in repatriation of the young children and their mothers who left the country to join ranks of the Islamic State in Syria, an appeals court in The Hague said on November 22, overturning an earlier ruling.
Earlier this month the preceding court instance said the government must actively help to repatriate 56 children living in squalid conditions in camps in Syria.
All the children concerned have Dutch nationality and are under 12 years old. Most are younger than six.
The government appealed this ruling, citing national security and the risks it said Dutch officials would be exposed by entering the camps to find these women and children.
It said the ruling would negatively impact Dutch foreign policy and international cooperation. The mothers and children concerned are living in poor conditions which could rapidly deteriorate as winter arrives in the Al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria, their lawyer Andre Seebregts told the court, defending the need of repatriation.
In total, around 68,000 defeated fighters of the Caliphate and their families are being held in the camp, according to the Red Cross. They are under the custody of Syrian Kurdish forces after they took the jihadist group’s last enclave.
Government figures revealed that, as of October, some 55 Islamic State militants still based in northern Syria had traveled there from the Netherlands. There were also at least 90 children with Dutch parents or parents who had lived for a considerable time in the Netherlands as residents.