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Finland won't rescue Isis fighters' families from Syrian refugee camp

Finland will not actively repatriate citizens marooned at the Al Hol refugee camp, according to the government.

Al-Holin pakolaisleiri
The Al Hol refugee camp in May 2019. Image: Antti Kuronen / Yle

Finland will not intervene to collect Finnish citizens stranded at the Al-Hol refugee camp in Syria, including 11 women and 33 children.

The government said it would not evacuate Finnish citizens from the camp when queried by the opposition Finns Party and National Coalition Party during Parliament’s question hour on Thursday afternoon.

“We have no plans of using consular services to bring these people to Finland,” said Prime Minister Antti Rinne, adding that the government will seek a solution to the situation that balances moral, ethical and security concerns.

Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, however, pointed out that citizens returning from the camp on their own would be allowed back into Finland. The government said it would seek help from international aid agencies to determine whether any of the Finnish citizens at the camp were seriously ill.

Finns Party parliamentary group chair Ville Tavio said Finns in the camp posed a security threat to Finland and said any children there should be taken out of parental custody.

Dealing with returnees

Rinne said MPs shouldn’t insinuate that the Finnish women in the camp have committed crimes ahead of any official investigations.

MP Sari Essayah of the opposition Christian Democrats claimed the women had supported their Isis partners, making them complicit to any possible crimes.

“Not one EU state has collected its adult citizens from the camp,” added long-time National Coalition MP Ben Zyskowicz.

The Al Hol refugee camp accommodates 74,000 people, 90 percent of whom are women and children, according to the Finnish Red Cross.

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