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Foreign Ministry: Two Finnish kids from Syrian camp headed to Finland

Finnish officials are bringing two Finnish children back from a Syrian refugee camp on Saturday night.

Tuntematon nainen ja lapsi kuvattuna al-Holin leirillä Syyriassa helmikuussa 2019.
Finnish politics have been shaken in recent weeks by news that the country was looking to bring back children from a camp in northern Syria. Image: Fadel Senna / AFP

Two Finnish children from the al-Hol refugee camp are in the care of Finnish authorities and en route to Finland on Saturday evening, the Foreign Ministry's Under Secretary of State Pekka Puustinen said at a press conference on Saturday just after 8pm.

Puustinen said the operation to repatriate the two children began on Monday when officials learned they were in a particularly vulnerable position.

"Thirty Finnish children are still at the camp and preparations for aiding them continue," he said.

To ensure the children’s safety and privacy, the Foreign Ministry said it would not release any further details. It also stated it would not provide any information regarding measures taken by Finnish authorities abroad to access the children.

Once in Finland, the children will undergo health checks before being handed over to child welfare officials.

Puustinen said the Foreign Ministry's actions to repatriate the children were based on the Finnish constitution as well as international agreements ratified by Finland.

On Thursday the Foreign Ministry said it was preparing to bring back two children from the camp. Yle later confirmed that Kurdish officials had picked up the children from the camp in Syria, taking them to Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan, where they were to be handed over to Finnish authorities.

A relative in Finland of someone at the camp told Yle that Kurdish officials had previously rounded up all of the Finns at the camp for fingerprinting and photographs.

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