FM: Geneva sisters repatriated from Syrian Desert camp

Two Swiss half-sisters, whose mother took them out of the country with her when she joined the Daesh militant group in the Middle East in 2016 have been repatriated from a desert camp in north-eastern Syria, the Swiss foreign ministry said on Tuesday and reported by Reuters.

The older girl, now 15, had suffered a severe shrapnel wound to her leg, requiring three operations, while the younger was said to be in poor health.

The Foreign Ministry confirmed that it had repatriated the two minors from the Al-Roj camp in north-east Syria.

“The children arrived on Swiss soil on 6 December at Geneva airport, having passed through Iraq,” it said in a statement.

The repatriation, believed to be the first of its kind to Switzerland, was carried out with the consent of their mother.

The government has previously said she was still in the camp and has several nationalities, although her Swiss citizenship had been withdrawn for security reasons. The girls have different fathers in Geneva.

The case had been raised by United Nations human rights experts in April.

READ: Assad used Swiss medical exports to make chemical weapons, report claims

The experts said, then, that the girls had been allegedly abducted in 2016 by their mother who joined Daesh. A senior Swiss official told Reuters, at the time, that it was working hard to have the girls sent home.

The Al-Hol and Al-Roj camps, run by Syrian Kurdish forces, hold nationals from some 60 countries who fled from Daesh’s last enclaves.

More than 60,000 people, two-thirds of them children, are held in camps for families associated with Daesh fighters. The International Committee of the Red Cross, which visits the camps, has described them as a “tragedy in plain sight”.

The Foreign Ministry has reaffirmed its 2019 policy on what it calls “travellers motivated by terrorism”, which puts Swiss security first. Repatriation can only be considered for minors in such situations, but some mothers refuse to be separated, it said.

Source

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