Germany and Finland on Sunday said they have repatriated 23 of their nationals, women and children from Syria, some of whom were under criminal investigation for allegedly belonging to the ISIS terrorist group.
“I am very relieved that we were able to repatriate another 12 children and three mothers from camps in northeastern Syria yesterday”, Germany’s foreign minister Heiko Maas said, adding that it is not legally possible to repatriate children without their mothers.
More than 9,000 foreign women and children are still being held in the al-Hol and Roj camps in northeastern Syria, housing suspected ISIL family members and sympathisers.
“The basic rights of the children interned in the al-Hol camps can be safeguarded only by repatriating them to Finland”, the Finnish foreign ministry said, adding that it had brought home six children and two adult mothers.
The decision has earlier raised tensions in Finland’s government, with the opposition warning that bringing home citizens with ISIS links is a security threat.