Two Armenian siblings growing up in the Netherlands are no longer in fear of deportation after the Dutch government ruled Saturday that they could stay in the country.
Lily and Howick have been living in the Netherlands for the last 10 years. They arrived from Russia back in 2008 with their mother, Armina Hambartsjumian, who applied for asylum. Her request was denied last year, and Hambartsjumian was deported to Armenia. Before leaving, however, she sent her children into hiding.
After a series of asylum rulings, the Council of State (the Netherlands’ highest court) concluded last month that Armenia was a safe country and that there were no grounds for Lili and Howick to stay.
Since then the Dutch government has been facing heavy criticism. In a written statement on Saturday, the Ministry of Justice and Security said Dutch and Armenian authorities tried to arrange a secure situation for the twelve and thirteen year olds in Armenia. But, “recent developments” would jeopardize the children’s welfare. The state secretary ultimately decided the children can remain in the Netherlands.
It’s still unclear if their mother will be allowed to return to reunite with her children.