UN asks Norway to take in mothers and children from Syrian camps, Foreign Ministry: “Nothing we can do”

Al-Hol campPhoto: Alessio Romenzi / UNICEF / NTB
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A UN group has asked Norway to immediately transport its citizens from the Al-Hol and Roj camps in Syria, but the Norwegian Foreign Ministry replied that there is nothing that the Norwegian authorities can do.

The conditions in the camps can constitute torture or inhuman treatment in accordance with international law, a letter from the UN group to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs pointed out. 

Norway and 56 other countries were asked to act immediately.

State Secretary Audun Halvorsen (H) confirmed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had received the letter.

” The government is following the situation of the foreign fighters and their children and is deeply concerned about the children who are in camps in Syria. These children live in difficult conditions and have been placed in a very serious situation by their parents,” Halvorsen told news bureau NTB.

At the same time, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs emphasizes that the remaining women living in the Syrian camps have not asked the Norwegian authorities for help in returning to Norway. 

Thus, there is nothing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs can do.

Consent necessary

Halvorsen pointed out that parents have the right to decide where a child should live or stay, and authorities can not transfer children from abroad and violate these rights.

This applies regardless of the reason why the child is abroad, and it means that children accompanied by their parents must get consent from parents in order for the authorities to consider intervening, Halvorsen said.

In June 2019, five orphaned Norwegian children were brought home from Al-Hol, and in January last year, the Norwegian authorities assisted a woman and her two children could return home. 

The 30-year-old woman is now accused of participating in several extremist groups, including ISIS. 

“Both cases were extraordinary and were carried out on a clear humanitarian basis,” Halvorsen added.

Save the Children has previously asked the Norwegian authorities to do more to enter into dialogue with the mothers in order to get the children out of the camps. 

Mostly women and children

A total of four Norwegian women and four Norwegian children were in the Al-Hol and Roj camps in December, according to the newspaper Aftenposten.

The UN expert group, led by Special Rapporteur Fionnuala Ni Aolain, points out in the letter that more than 64,000 people are trapped in the camps. Most are women and children, and some are foreigners who have family ties to ISIS members.

In addition to Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the USA, and Russia, among others, have been asked to bring home their citizens from the camps.

Source: © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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