Three families to Finland from al-Hol camp via Turkey
Three families who have escaped from the al-Hol camp have arrived from Turkey to Finland this afternoon. Children and women were interned in the al-Hol camp in Syria which they left in the spring. The families’ children are under ten years of age. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has consistently recommended that no one try to leave the camp in the war zone on their own.
The Finnish authorities take particular caution when dealing with matters concerning minors due to the protection of privacy and security.
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has assisted Finnish children and their guardians in accordance with the Consular Services Act. They have been granted travel documents at the Embassy of Ankara and their return to Finland has been arranged in cooperation with the Turkish authorities. All Finnish citizens have the right to return to Finland. It is the duty of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Finnish embassies abroad to provide the essential official services, such as travel documents, to enable return to Finland.
A total of 30 Finnish children and 10 Finnish mothers have been held in the al-Hol camp. A number of Finnish children and mothers still remain in the camp. It has not been possible to proceed with the planned repatriation because the local authorities managing the camp have temporarily suspended cooperation due to the global coronavirus pandemic. Public authorities have a constitutional obligation to repatriate the children in the camp, insofar as this is possible. On 19 December 2019, the Finnish Government issued a resolution on the repatriation of Finnish children from the al-Hol camp. The competent authority in this matter is the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The Special Representative appointed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs directs both the activities of the authorities and the cooperation between the authorities, and makes the repatriation decisions under Finnish law. This work will continue as long as Finnish children remain in an emergency.
The authorities have received the children and adults arriving in Finland. For example, questions concerning child welfare, health checks, quarantine arrangements and possible criminal investigations will be answered by the competent authorities in Finland. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs cannot disclose personal data concerning the children or adults, or all details of the official activities.
Inquiries: Ministry for Foreign Affairs/Communications for Current Affairs Pekka Shemeikka, Counsellor, tel. +358 50 311 2361.