Parliamentarian Dilan Yesilgöz says the conservative VVD party is willing to negotiate retrieving the children of Dutch jihadists from Syria and returning them to the Netherlands – as long as their parents don’t come with them.
While the party has until now opposed welcoming IS children into the Netherlands, Monday Yesilgöz said on the television program Pauw, “When it comes to children, that of course also affects me. Especially if they are small children…They didn’t choose this themselves.”
According to Yesilgöz, repatriation of the Dutch children is only negotiable under strict conditions: the child’s parents must be tried in Syria and recovery would only be possible if both parents receive a life sentence or are dead.
The Rutte III coalition has been divided over the subject, with the D66 and ChristenUnie advocating the children’s return and CDA and the VVD refusing outright – until Yesilgöz’s statements on Pauw.
D66 parliamentarian Sjoerd Sjoerdsma tweeted in response to the VVD flip, “Very good news that VVD MP Dilan Yesilgöz now also says that bringing young children back from Syria is negotiable. Let’s get the government together to do this!”
As of May 2019, NOS reports as many as 85 Dutch children are living in Syrian-Kurdish camps or in detention, some of whom were taken from the Netherlands while many others were born in the battle zone. 90% of these children are under 9 years old and they are accompanied by around 55 Dutch adults, of whom three quarters are women. In addition, there are at least another 85 children with Dutch jihadists active in the combat zone.