Denmark blocks return of children of ISIS fighters stranded in Syria

Denmark blocks return of children of ISIS fighters stranded in Syria
Denmark blocks return of children of ISIS fighters stranded in Syria

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Denmark will not allow the return of about 30 children whose parents travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight for ISIS, the country’s prime minister said.

Mette Frederiksen, the leader of the left-wing coalition government, said allowing children to come to Denmark would open the door to the return of their parents.

The UN estimates there are some 30,000 children of foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq. Two-thirds of them are Iraqi children in Syria.

“The challenge is that we cannot separate the children from their mothers,” the premier told the Danish news agency Ritzau.

The agency reported there were no known cases where children of Danish foreign fighters had been allowed to return to the country.

The prime minister said that she had been repeatedly urged to take only the children back.

“No, I can’t, because then their mothers come along and they don’t have a place in our society,” she said.

The Danish government said 36 extremists are known to have travelled from Denmark to combat zones while about 30 children are believed to be in the region.

Ms Frederiksen became prime minister of a minority government in June with a promise to impose strict controls on refugees and asylum seekers.

Her promise on controlling numbers entering Denmark undercut the vote for the anti-migrant party the Danish People’s Party, which saw its support slashed.

The government has nonetheless pressed ahead with its own tough policies with parliament passing a law in October allowing the government to strip the passports from Danes who travelled abroad to join militant groups. The following month, two men had their passports withdrawn.

The policy follows tough measures introduced by previous governments including pulling out of a UN resettlement programme and a 2016 law that allowed the authorities to seize valuables from migrants to help finance the costs of their stay.

Denmark was also criticised by rights groups earlier this month after authorities rejected the asylum claims of three Syrian women by saying that it was safe for them to return to Damascus.

Denmark is one of a number of European countries grappling with the issue of returning foreign fighters and the threat of terrorism from supporters of ISIS.

Prosecutors have warned that the difficulty of obtaining evidence in war zones would make it hard to secure terrorist convictions.

They are also concerned about the prospect of hardened fighters returning to sow discord and launch attacks in their own countries.

Twenty-one people were arrested earlier this month in Denmark including one group who were accused of trying to obtain ingredients to make explosives.

Another group was stopped from buying a cache of guns and ammunition to launch a terrorist attack. Authorities said the suspects had a “militant, Islamist motive”.

In 2015 two people were killed and six police officers wounded in a terror attack which began outside a culture centre hosting a freedom of speech event in Copenhagen. The gunman was killed by police.

Updated: December 30, 2019 07:37 PM

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