A Dutch church is holding a marathon service to block a family’s Christmas deportation

Worshippers at a church in the Netherlands have been holding round-the-clock prayer services for more than six weeks to prevent an Armenian family from being deported, hoping for a Christmas miracle. Emily Wither reports.

This church service in the Netherlands has been running round the clock for more than six weeks.

They’re not trying to break a world record. They’re trying to save this Armenian family from being deported.

ARMENIAN ASYLUM-SEEKER HAYARPI TAMRAZYAN, 21 YEARS OLD, SAYS:

“I really don’t know what the outcome will be, but we hope we can stay here, because this is our home, this is where we belong. And my brother, my sister and I, we grew up in the Netherlands and we have been living here for almost nine years.”

Under Dutch law police are barred from entering a place of worship while a ceremony is in progress.

So hundreds of supporters from the Netherlands and abroad are holding service non-stop at the Bethel church in The Hague.

The idea is they’ll block the deportation of the Tamrazyan family.

The congregation is hoping to convince Dutch authorities to make an exception to immigration rules on humanitarian grounds.

DERK STEGEMAN, BETHEL CHURCH MINISTER SAYS:

“Immigration procedures often take a long time, and as a result hundreds of immigrants children grow up during these procedures and they have settled here and rooted here now.”

The family came to the Netherlands in 2010.

They say they can’t return to Armenia because they’re considered dissidents and are afraid for their safety.

The Netherlands took in hundreds of thousands of migrant workers in the 1960s and 70s but now has one of the EU’s toughest immigration policies.

The conservative government under Prime Minister Mark Rutte says so-called “economic” immigrants cannot stay.

For now the family will keep hoping, praying, for a Christmas miracle.