Finland and Germany repatriated their citizens from north-east Syria

Today, on Sunday 20 December 2020, Finland repatriated six Finnish children and two adult mothers from north-east Syria. The persons are now in the care of competent Finnish authorities.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs organised the repatriation in cooperation with German authorities. In the same connection, Germany repatriated German children and their mothers.

Under section 22 of the Constitution of Finland, Finnish public authorities are obligated to safeguard the basic rights of the Finnish children interned in the camps insofar as this is possible.  The basic rights of the children interned in the al-Hol camps can be safeguarded only by repatriating them to Finland.

The mothers of the children were repatriated together with the children. It is not possible to repatriate only the children. In all actions, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.

About fifteen Finnish children and less than ten mothers are still interned in the camps in north-east Syria. Altogether, more than six thousand foreign children and approximately three thousand foreign mothers, of whom approximately 600 children and 300 women are EU citizens, are still in the camps. About half of the children are younger than five years old. 

The camps in north-east Syria constitute a long-term security risk. The longer the children remain in the camps, without protection and education, the harder it will be to counter radical extremism.

A virtual press conference will be arranged on 20 December 2020 at 14.00 in the Government Press Room.

More information: MFA/Current Affairs: Counsellor Pekka Shemeikka,, p. 050 311 2361