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New Finland leader: ‘silent blessing’ given to bring home Islamic State kids
HELSINKI (Reuters) – Finland’s new prime minister said on Wednesday the center-left coalition government had given its “silent blessing” to the Foreign Minister to go ahead with plans to repatriate children of women who traveled to Syria to join Islamic State.
The remarks by Prime Minister Sanna Marin, a day after she took office, could set the stage for a conflict within her five member center-left coalition, which has yet to agree a position on the issue of repatriations.
The coalition’s second biggest party, the Centre Party, which toppled Marin’s predecessor last week, has so far withheld support for the Foreign Ministry’s plans.
Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said he had nominated a special envoy to look into how more than 30 Finnish children currently trapped at the Al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria could be brought home.
“(Our) guidelines include the idea that at least the children could be brought to safety from the camp within a reasonable timeframe,” Haavisto told reporters, adding that it was not clear how quickly that could take place.
The Red Cross says around 68,000 people are being held in Al-Hol, mostly the family members of defeated Islamic State fighters, two thirds of them children. Finland is one of many EU countries trying to decide what to do about their citizens.