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Dutch church holds 1 month of non-stop service to protect refugee family from deportation

Click to play video: 'Dutch church holding month-long service to provide family asylum' Dutch church holding month-long service to provide family asylum
WATCH: Dutch church holding month-long service to provide family asylum – Nov 27, 2018

A church in the Netherlands has been holding non-stop, 24-hour prayer services for about a month.

The Bethel Church is housing a refugee family from Armenia who is at risk of being deported by authorities. But it’s against the law for police to enter places of worship while prayers are ongoing.

That means the Protestant church in The Hague has had a continuous service for more than 700 hours, starting Oct. 26.

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And it’s been a team effort. Reverends around the country have been taking turns hosting the services to help the Tamrazyan family, who has been living in Netherlands for about nine years.

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The family escaped from Armenia in 2009 after the father’s political activism led to death threats, but Euronews explained that they were served a deportation order in September from Dutch authorities.

The family includes parents Sasun and Anousche and their three children, Hayarpi, Warduhi and Seyran. While they were first granted asylum in the Netherlands, it’s unclear why the decision was reversed.

WATCH: Inside the service at a Netherlands church that has been going on since Oct 26

Click to play video: 'Inside the service at a Netherlands church that has been going on since Oct 26' Inside the service at a Netherlands church that has been going on since Oct 26
Inside the service at a Netherlands church that has been going on since Oct 26 – Nov 30, 2018

The church explains on its website that the family received court permission to stay in the Netherlands twice. They then applied for a children’s pardon, a Dutch rule that lets refugee families with children who have lived in the Netherlands for more than five years stay in the country. But the pardon was denied.

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The website explains the denial was not surprising.

“After a few years, the practice shows that with this regulation, the child pardon is awarded in less than 10 per cent of cases,” it reads.

Hayarpi, 21, has been actively pleading for politicians to step in and help them.

“This week, I can be expelled from the Netherlands after nine years,” she wrote in a September social media post. “On behalf of my brother and sister, I ask you for help.”

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How does Canada’s refugee system work? – Aug 23, 2017

She also has been posting videos of services on Twitter, thanking those who have taken part in the non-stop prayers.

While the church accepted the family’s request to house them, Theo Hettema, chairman of the General Council of Protestant Ministers, told Quartz that the situation puts the church in an uncomfortable position.

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Hettema said he hopes the country’s minister of migration, Mark Harbers, will step in soon.

There has been increasing pressure on the government to grant more child pardons through a growing online petition, which has more than 245,000 signatures so far.

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