Denmark offers to evacuate four-year-old child, but not mother, from Syrian camp 

Denmark offers to evacuate four-year-old child, but not mother, from Syrian camp 
A general view of al-Hol displacement camp in Hasaka governorate, Syria April 2, 2019. REUTERS/Ali Hashisho/File Photo
The government has said it will extract a four-year-old Danish child with PTSD from a Kurdish-controlled prison camp in Syria, but her Danish mother and adopted brother must stay behind.

The government opposes repatriating its own citizens, including children, from the camps, which accommodate former Islamic State (Isis) militants and sympathisers.

But the girl’s situation fulfils the conditions for a “medical evacuation”, the government said according to broadcaster DR’s report.

Experts have warned that separating the girl from her mother would traumatise her further, DR writes.

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Denmark’s foreign ministry has written to the family’s lawyer to “offer medical evacuation of (the girl) if (the mother) wishes for this,” newspaper Berlingske reported. She would be required to consent to separation from her daughter in order for the evacuation to take place.

The lawyer, Knud Foldschack, has said that the mother will not accept allowing her daughter to be separated from her in order to travel alone to Denmark.

In comments to DR, Foldschack slammed the decision by the Danish authorities.

“This is a despicable decision. I am livid,” the lawyer said.

“Never in my 40 years as a lawyer have I seen anything so low in a public communication (from authorities),” he added.

Left-leaning political parties have also criticised the government’s stance.

“It is incomprehensible that the phrase ‘offer’ is used to bring the girl back to Denmark,” justice spokesperson Kristian Hegaard of the Social Liberal party told news wire Ritzau.

“We have an obligation to this girl with PTSD and medical assessments clearly state that the girl must go home, and so should her mother,” Hegaard added.

A total of 19 children, who are either children of or “connected to” Danish citizens or former Danish citizens are known to be accommodated at two Kurdish-controlled camps in northeastern Syria. The latest report from the intelligence agency, PET, states that 25 children of persons who travelled to the country from Denmark are in the camps.

The 19 children are aged between 0 and 14 years. Nine were born in Denmark and ten in conflict zones.

The six mothers of the children in question have all stated that they wish to return to Denmark. Three of the six have had their Danish citizenships withdrawn administratively, according to earlier reports.

The Kurdish-controlled camps, al-Hol and al-Roj, house suspected relatives and sympathisers of Islamic State (Isis) fighters. The children are ostensibly in the camps because their mothers travelled to Syria in support of the terrorist group.

According to NGO Human Rights Watch, 43,000 foreign men, women, and children linked to Isis remain detained in “inhuman or degrading conditions” by regional authorities in northeastern Syria, two years after they were rounded up during the fall of Isis.

Until recently, the government has refused to extract the children from the camps, primarily citing security reasons. The Danish intelligence service FE has said in a report that leaving them in Syria poses more of a potential security risk to Denmark than repatriating them.

The Danish government last month said it would establish a ‘taskforce’ to look at options for repatriating the 19 children, without their parents. The taskforce is scheduled to complete its work by May 15th.


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