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Thursday’s papers: Orphan repatriation, priests on euthanasia and tips on handling the darkness

The return of two orphans from Syria was high on the news agenda on Thursday morning.

Tuntematon nainen ja lapsi kuvattuna al-Holin leirillä Syyriassa helmikuussa 2019.
The camp at al-Hol has been on Finland's political agenda. Image: Fadel Senna / AFP
Yle News

Finnish politics has been shaken in recent weeks by news that the country is looking to bring back children from a camp in northern Syria.

The camp at al-Hol houses women who are or have been married to Isis fighters. Also at al-Hol are children, and orphans who were in the region when the Isis caliphate fell.

Early on Wednesday morning Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto survived a confidence vote brought by the opposition parties after rancorous debate inside parliament and on social media, with the focus on the adults at the camp.

The question as posed by Centre Party leader Katri Kulmuni in a hastily-deleted Instagram poll was whether to repatriate the women and children at the camp, or just the children.

On Wednesday evening Haavisto told Yle that an operation was underway, before Helsingin Sanomat reported that two orphans from the camp had left on their way to Erbil, and from there to Finland.

Soon afterwards Yle also confirmed the events, with the Finns in the camp gathered by guards and photographed before the two children were removed from the facility.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs is expected to announce news of the repatriation once the children are with Finnish authorities in Erbil.

Euthanasia and the church

A doctoral thesis has drawn plenty of media attention after it suggested that up to half of Lutheran priests in Finland may be positive about euthanasia, if it remains separate from standard healthcare provision.

Iltalehti reports that the study found two out of five priests willing to consider euthanasia as an option if the patient’s life expectancy was a few days, but just one in five was similarly inclined if the patient could expect to survive for months.

"This is surprising, considering that Christian churches and communities tend to oppose euthanasia. Earlier studies have also shown that religious professionals are usually against euthanasia," said doctoral candidate Miia Kontro in a widely-quoted press release.

The study showed that female priests were more positive than male ones in relation to euthanasia.

Kaamos tricks

Saturday marks the winter solstice and at this, the darkest time of the year, many people in Finland turn to thoughts of hibernation, special daylight lamps and other support measures to get through the winter.

The Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) is not immune to these thoughts of ‘kaamos’, and has produced a handy list of ten tips for those craving daylight.

Business daily Kauppalehti reports the list.

The use of daylight-imitating lamps, regular exercise (but not in the evening), winding down properly in the evening before sleep (no bright lights or phones), and making sure you see friends even if you feel like hibernating at home are among the top hints from Finland’s health and wellness boffins.

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