Important for safety that work of bringing home children wasn’t publicized

Ine Eriksen SøreideForeign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide.Photo: Ørn E. Borgen / NTB scanpix

The Norwegian authorities feared for the safety of the Norwegian children in the al-Hol camp in Syria if details about the operation of retrieving them had become known.

Foreign Minister, Ine Eriksen Søreide of Høyre (H) said at a press conference on Monday night that the work of fetching the five orphans out of the refugee camp al-Hol has been very demanding.

The work has been led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which for a long time has worked with both planning, identification, issuing of passports, and various permits.

‘’Safety has been most important in the work. Therefore, it has been important that it was not known to the public. It would endanger the children’s safety. I have feared that we would not be able to get them safely home” said Eriksen Søreide.

She pointed out that the area in Syria is complex, with both kidnappings, bombings, and terrorist attacks.

DNA testing

She said she is happy that the children are now on their way to Norway, and that they will get all the follow-up they need.

‘’The five children are Norwegian citizens, proven through DNA testing. The analysis was carried out by the Institute of Forensic Medicine. They have got a passport in line with ordinary Norwegian rules’’ she said.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg (H) also pointed to safety concerns when she was asked at the press conference whether more children would be taken out of Syria.

‘’It is the children’s safety we have been concerned about. The moment they were identified as Norwegian children, they could be exposed to danger.

There are also security challenges associated with government officials.

These are unstable areas where there are difficult conditions’’ said Solberg.

Considering the situation

The Prime Minister maintains what she said at the end of April that Norway will bring home children, but cannot get children without the parents’ consent.

‘’We will assess the situation ahead for the other children, but will not go into detail about this because it has to do with the children’s safety’’ she said.

She confirmed that the government is not going to give information about any new operations of this kind before they are completed, precisely because of the safety of the children and Norwegian personnel.

On Monday it became known that the two Norwegian Somali sisters from Bærum who went to Syria in 2013 have now been found alive wrote Aftenposten newspaper.

The sisters had both become mothers in Syria. Neither the Foreign Minister, nor Prime Minister Erna Solberg (H) would comment on what will happen to them.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today

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