On Sunday, three families arrived in Finland from the Al Hol detention camp in Syria where women and children related to ISIS militants are being held.

Stock picture: Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
Stock picture: Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

“The government wants to repatriate the children as soon as possible,” Prime Minister Sanna Marin (the SDP) said in a press conference in December 2019.

On Sunday, the government’s plans took another step forward, when three families who had escaped from the Al Hol tent camp in Syria—filled with mostly women and children related to ISIS militants—and fled to Turkey, arrived in Finland under the protection of a massive police operation at the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport.

There was not much firsthand reporting to be done for journalists and photographers, unless the notes and pictures of random police cars, ambulances and vehicles of the border guard was the focus. No one was allowed to enter close to any action.

Behind the closed doors, three Finnish women and nine children set their foot on the soil, which according to their documents, belonged to their homeland. They were transferred to quarantine as a safety procedure against any coronavirus infections.

According to the National Bureau of Investigation, the police are after the quarantine going to interrogate the women of their past and possible plans for the future. The police are going to fish for possible clues to press charges against possible crimes conducted in Syria, or elsewhere.

The operation was planned hidden from the public’s eye until the last minute on Sunday when the Foreign Ministry sent out an official press release of the plan.

The process has been criticized politically and publicly by the Finns Party leader, Jussi Halla-aho, and by the leader of the National Coalition Party, Petteri Orpo. They blame the government for a cover-up; they are concerned about the safety of the Finnish citizens.

According to Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (the Green League), there are still about 10 Finnish adults and 20 children in the Al Hol tent camp.

“We are, of course, going to do our best that these children would get help,” Haavisto said in an interview for the MTV News on Monday.

Background:

There are about 70,000 people, women and children, trapped in the Al Hol tent camp in Syria after the United States-backed forces destroyed the Islamic State in Syria and sent the surrendered women and their children to Al Hol, which is one of the refugee camps.

In December 2019, Finland repatriated two orphan children from Al Hol.