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Dutch church ends 24/7 service after govt policy shift

In this Thursday Dec. 13, 2018, file image, Hayarpi Tamrazyan, a 21-year-old Armenian asylum seeker, right, gets a hug from spokesperson Florine Kuethe inside the Bethel chapel in The Hague, Netherlands. A non-stop service started in October by a Dutch protestant church to protect a family of Armenian asylum seekers from deportation is ending after the government announced changes to its immigration policy. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — A Dutch Protestant church has ended a non-stop service that started in October to protect a family of Armenian asylum-seekers from deportation after the government announced changes to its immigration policy.

The Bethel Church, a small chapel in a Hague residential neighbourhood, announced the end of the 24-7 service Wednesday, a day after the Dutch ruling coalition announced it will review hundreds of asylum applications by children that previously were rejected.

Church official Theo Hettema said in a statement that “we are incredibly grateful for a safe future in the Netherlands for hundreds of refugee families.”

The round-the-clock church service began Oct. 26 to protect the Tamrazyan family — parents, their two daughters and a son. Dutch law prohibits authorities from entering a church building while a service is underway.

The Associated Press