Kosovo repatriates 11 women and children from Syria
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Kosovo has brought home women linked to ISIS along with their children from northeast Syria, the government said on Sunday.
Interior minister Xhelal Svecla tweeted that 11 Kosovars were repatriated on Saturday “from the conflict zones in Syria.” The minister did not specify where they were held, but RFE/RL later reported him as saying they were the wives and children of ISIS fighters "who need our help and support” to reintegrate into society.
The families of suspected ISIS fighters are primarily held in two sprawling camps in northeast Syria, al-Hol and al-Roj.
RFE/RL cited Svecla as saying that anyone who committed crimes would be prosecuted.
Kosovo’s move follows similar repatriations in recent days of women and children to Belgium and Finland, which both brought home ISIS-linked families at the weekend. Belgium brought home six women and 10 children while Finland repatriated a woman and her two children.
Finland’s special envoy in charge of the repatriations told Kurdistan 24 on Friday that his government’s priority was not only the rights of the children, but the future security implications of leaving them in the camps, which are a hotbed for radicalization.
Since the fall of the Islamic State in Syria in March 2019, thousands of children of ISIS foreign fighters have lingered in the camps in squalid conditions. Al-Hol is particular is exceedingly violent, and international experts have warned that leaving children in those conditions without education or basic services makes them vulnerable to further radicalization.
Svecla has previously said there are still nine women and 44 children with a Kosovar parent in Syria, as well as 43 men believed to be ISIS fighters.