It is the first time Finland repatriates adults from the Al Hol detention camp.
Finland has repatriated six Finnish children and two adult mothers from north-east Syria on Sunday. They are now in the care of competent Finnish authorities.
It is the first time Finland has repatriated adults from the Al Hol detention camp in Syria where women and children related to ISIS militants are being held.
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs organized the repatriation in cooperation with German authorities. In the same connection, Germany repatriated German children and their mothers.
“We don’t live in a world where we could have repatriated the children only and leave the mothers there,” Jukka Tanner, Finland’s envoy tasked with repatriating children from Al Hol, said in a press conference on Sunday. “The only options were to either repatriate the children with their mothers or leave the whole family to the camps,” he continued.
According to the Finnish government Kurdish forces, who manage the camps, do not allow the guardians to be separated from the children without their will.
In a statement released by the Foreign Ministry, the ministry noted that “under section 22 of the Constitution of Finland, Finnish public authorities are obligated to safeguard the basic rights of the Finnish children interned in the camps insofar as this is possible. The basic rights of the children interned in the al-Hol camps can be safeguarded only by repatriating them to Finland.”
The camps in north-east Syria, according to the Foreign Ministry, constitute a long-term security risk. “The longer the children remain in the camps, without protection and education, the harder it will be to counter radical extremism,” the ministry noted.
In a press conference on Monday, Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (the Green League) said that the Finnish authorities are following the actions of the repatriated closely. “If there would be any potential threats in the future, [the authorities] would immediately step in,” he said.
About fifteen Finnish children and less than ten mothers are still trapped in the camps in north-east Syria. Altogether, more than six thousand foreign children and approximately three thousand foreign mothers, of whom about 600 children and 300 women are EU citizens, are still in the camps. About half of the children are younger than five years old.