Syria: Update on Dutch kids

Slightly more than two weeks ago, two Dutch kids - Sara, 11, and her lightly autistic brother, Ammar, 13 - fled to the Dutch embassy in Damascus. The kids, who have been abudcted by their Syrian father two years ago, want to go back to their mother in the Netherlands. Sara and Ammar ran away when they were visiting their grandparents, stopped a taxi and asked to be taken to the Dutch embassy.

As long as the kids stay in the embassy, or inside diplomatic cars, they are safe. However, once they step foot outside Dutch protection, even on their way to the plane, they can be returned to their father.

The Dutch have therefore been trying the diplomatic method. The Dutch ambassador has been trying to convince the Syrians that since the kids are Dutch and have been abducted from the Netherlands, by whose laws they should be under their mother's care, they should be returned. However, Syrian law says that the father should have custody, and the Syrians aren't signed on anything that obligates them to return abducted kids.

There is currently no solution in sight, and the Dutch embassy is preparing to have the two kids stay over for a long time.

In a similar case two Belgian-Iranian sisters, Yasmine and Sara Pourashemi, fled their father to the Belgian embassy in Iran. They stayed there for 154 days until finally they were allowed to return home.
Currently, the father demands to see a delegation from the Netherlands and continues to blame the embassy for kidnapping his kids.

Last year, a team from the TV show Vermist (Missing) tried making contact with the kids, and setting up a meeting with their mother. The father agreed, as long as the mother doesn't come. However, when the show team showed up, he called the police, saying they tried to abduct the kids with a gun. It turned into a diplomatic incident with the Dutch ambassador coming to apologize.

This is a link to a news video about the case. It is in Dutch, but even non-Dutch speakers might find it interesting, as the pictures speak for themselves.

It includes a short home video of Sara, begging to come home. She says that she doesn't like it in Syria and wants to go back to the Netherlands. That her father doesn't allow it and that he hits her whenever she asks about it.

Sources (in Dutch): Vermist (1, 2) , NOS

See also: Syria: Abducted Dutch kids flee to embassy

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