November 12, 2019 / 11:28 AM / a month ago

Dutch state to challenge order to take back Islamic State children

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Dutch state said on Tuesday it will appeal against a court ruling ordering it to take back dozens of young children of mothers who joined Islamic State in Syria.

A court in The Hague said on Monday the government must actively help repatriate 56 children living in poor conditions in camps in Syria.

“The ruling raises questions about a number of issues that may not have been sufficiently considered, including international affairs,” Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus and Foreign Minister Stef Blok wrote in a letter to parliament.

“The Cabinet decided to file an appeal to gain certainty as quickly as possible.”

A lawyer for 23 mothers had told the court that the families were living in “deplorable conditions” in the Al-Hol camp in Northern Syria.

The court ordered the Dutch government to act quickly to bring the children, all under 12 years of age, to the Netherlands. It said the state did not need to repatriate the mothers.

Around 68,000 defeated fighters of Islamic State 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.

Around 55 Islamic State militants who travelled from the Netherlands and at least 90 children with Dutch parents, or parents who had lived for a considerable time in the Netherlands, are in Northern Syria, according to figures from October.

Turkey announced last week it would start to repatriate captured Islamic State fighters to their countries of origin even if their citizenship had been revoked.

Reporting by Anthony Deutsch and Toby Sterling; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Ed Osmond

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