MFA aware of orphan Norwegians in Syria via media
On direct questions, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ine Søreide, confirms that she and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) first learned about orphan Norwegian children in Syrian refugee camps via the media.
Labour’s foreign policy spokesperson, Anniken Huitfeldt, points out that there have been various signals from the government parties about whether Norway should bring home children of foreign fighters.
“I am, therefore, pleased that the Prime Minister for the first time yesterday, after an article in Aftenposten regarding orphans in a refugee camp, came up with completely new signals that Norway should help orphans come home to Norway,” she states during the Parliament’s oral questioning hour.
“Was it really only yesterday, after Aftenposten published the article, that the Norwegian authorities became aware that there were orphaned Norwegian children in the refugee camps, or has this been known to the authorities for a long time?” Huitfeldt queries.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ine Eriksen Søreide (Conservatives), points out that the government has been working on obtaining an overview of children of foreign fighters for a long time already.
“For the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it was the first time we heard about these children when they were mentioned [by Aftenposten]. I, however, repeat that there is a great deal of uncertainty about numbers and verification of this,” she replies to Huitfeldt’s specific question.
“The situation in the camps in Syria and Iraq is unclear in the sense that there is no final list or overview of how many persons have travelled, how many have lost their lives or gone home, or how many children they have birthed,” Søreide continues.
She emphasizes to NTB that authorities of all nations have challenges in finding out about this.
“Several have also returned to countries other than their country of origin,” she explains.
Requires parental consent
Søreide emphasizes to the Parliament that the Norwegian authorities have chosen to prioritize the orphans because they are the most vulnerable:
“If children have parents that they are together with and who is alive, it is possible to retrieve these children but that requires the consent of the parents. We have no authority to take children from parents if they do not so wish.”
She further states that adults must be responsible for their actions, but that the children bear no responsibility for their parents’ choice.
Søreide points out that Norway is now working closely with other nations, including the Nordic countries, to map the situation. this includes dialogue with aid organizations as well.
“We are now working on possible solutions to perform DNA tests,” Søreide concludes.
40 Children with Norwegian ties
Prime Minister Erna Solberg opened up for bringing home orphan Norwegian children who are in Syria on Tuesday. It is also opened up for bringing home the children with surviving parents in Syria, without their parents.
The Special Branch (PST) has previously estimated that there are about 40 children with a Norwegian connection in Syria at present. 18 of them are accounted for. At least twelve of those are orphan.
Seven of them are, according to NRK, children of the killed Swedish-Norwegian ISIL warrior Michael Skråmo. Their Swedish grandfather attempts to get them back to Sweden. The other five may be eligible for return to Norway.
Solberg points out that the Norwegian authorities do not have the mandate to separate children and parents; ie bring out children who are together with their ISIL parents. Children’s organizations believe it would be problematic to expose already traumatized children to further trauma by separating them from their parents.
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today