Dutch church holds service 24/7 to protect Armenians from deportation

Dutch church holds service 24/7 to protect Armenians from deportation

PanARMENIAN.Net - A church in the Netherlands has been holding an ongoing 24-hour service for the last month to prevent an Armenian refugee family from deportation, euronews says in an article.

The Bethel Church in The Hague, which is currently sheltering the refugee family, has been conducting more than 700 hours of continuous service since October 26 as authorities, under Dutch law, cannot enter the church while prayers are ongoing.

The Tamrazyan family fled Armenia in 2009 over fears for their safety, due to the father's political activism. For the last three years, the family have been members of the Gereformeerde Kerk (GKV) church in the coastal municipality of Katwijk, residing in a local centre for asylum seekers.

But in mid-September, the family learned of a deportation order against them, sparking an appeal for help.

GKV Katwijk said the family took shelter in the halls of the church building shortly thereafter, saying they no longer felt safe in the asylum centre.

"We hope the family gets a permit to stay in the Netherlands for two reasons," GKV Katwijk said in a statement to Euronews. The father of the family runs a great chance of being killed in Armenia. And the children have been living in the Netherlands for nine years and are rooted here."

Despite the church providing shelter, the family were still in danger of deportation from Dutch authorities, which led to the Bethel Church in The Hague stepping in to help.

Bethel Church pastor Axel Wicke said the church welcomed the Tamrazyan family on October 26 and would conduct prayers "around the clock, day and night," while an asylum case continued.

The continuous prayers then ensued, with volunteering pastors undertaking a relay-style handover to keep the service running 24 hours a day.

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