Denmark considers repatriating Islamic State-linked children from the camps in Rojava
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Denmark on Tuesday announced it has established a taskforce to assess the possibility of repatriating Danish children from camps in northeastern Syria (Rojava).
Denmark’s foreign ministry said the taskforce will reveal by May 15 whether Danish children can be repatriated without their parents “in a secure manner and within the framework of Denmark’s obligations to (international) conventions” and will take steps to prepare evacuations.
“As soon as the results of the task force are available, the government will take the initiative for renewed political consultations on the overall handling of the Danish children in the camps,” it added.
As the Islamic State (ISIS) barrelled towards defeat in 2018 and 2019, thousands of men were arrested and imprisoned, and women and children interned at camps under the control of Kurdish-led authorities in the country’s northeast.
The Danish government had previously stated that it would not accept children of ISIS fighters back into the country despite the dangerous conditions in the camps.
A total of 19 Danish children are currently held in the Kurdish-controlled Roj and al-Hol camps in Rojava, AFP reported on Tuesday.
Many countries have refused to repatriate their nationals from the camps, despite increasing dangers. Forty-five people have been murdered at al-Hol since the beginning of this year.
Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) commander Mazloum Abdi on Monday called on foreign countries “to take back their citizens & give more humanitarian support to al-Hol to improve the conditions and stability” in al-Hol.
A recent poll showed 49 percent of Danes were opposed to the repatriation of children up to 14 years old, according to AFP.
Denmark repatriated an injured child in June 2019.
UN expert Fionnuala Ni Aolain criticized Denmark on March 2 and strongly urged the government to repatriate its citizens in an interview with the Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR).
“Denmark has always been and should be an advocate of tolerance, human rights and for the rule of law. But you can’t just preach that to other countries in the abstract. You have to live your values when it’s hardest, when it’s most difficult politically when it’s easiest to walk away,” said Ni Aolain, UN Special Rapporteur for the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism.
A representative of Save the Children told the UN Security Council in February that UN member states must repatriate the thousands of children living in the camps.