Germany and Finland Repatriate Women and Children From Islamic State Camps

Germany and Finland have repatriated 23 of their citizens — five women and 18 children — from Islamic State (IS) camps in northeastern Syria on Dec. 20.

Germany and Finland have repatriated 23 of their citizens — five women and 18 children — from Islamic State (IS) camps in northeastern Syria on Dec. 20.

Citing humanitarian reasons, both foreign ministries have brought home women and children from the Roj and al-Hol camps that house alleged family members of IS.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement that he was “relieved” to repatriate 12 children and three mothers on “humanitarian grounds and involved (amongst others) orphans and sick children – cases in which a repatriation was deemed particularly necessary and urgent.”

The three women — Leonora M., Merve A., and Yasmin A. — are reportedly under investigation for allegedly belonging to IS.

The Finnish Foreign Ministry said it repatriated six children and two mothers and are currently under the care of Finnish authorities.

“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 foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The mothers of the children were repatriated together with the children. It is not possible to repatriate only the children,” the foreign ministry also said.

The Finnish foreign ministry also estimated that 600 children and 300 women of the 6,000 foreign children and 3,000 foreign mothers still being held in the camp are European citizens.

“The camps in northeast Syria 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 Finnish foreign ministry said.


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