Tuesday 10/26/21
20 WOMEN AND CHILDREN

Government spent 395,000 euros on repatriations from Al-Hol

The government claims that it has charged returnees for their travel expenses and documents.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto (L). Photo: Jussi Toivanen/Vnk.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto (L). Photo: Jussi Toivanen/Vnk.

The repatriation of 20 Finnish children and their mothers from the Al-Hol concentration camp in northern Syria cost about 395,000 euros, according to data released Thursday by the government.

"To date, the costs incurred by Finnish authorities for the repatriation of 20 Finnish children and their mothers from northeast Syria amount to approximately 395,000 euros," the Ministry for Foreign Affairs said in a press release.

The assignment began in 2019.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs organised the most recent repatriation in December 2020.

According to the department headed by Pekka Haavisto, at the time, all the costs incurred "were not immediately clear." The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has made a comprehensive analysis of the costs of the assignment so far.

The authorities’ travel expenses account for approximately 199,000 euros of the total costs. The sum covers travel tickets, accommodation and daily allowances. Chartered transport costs amounted to approximately 118,000 euros. To ensure the security of the operations, the Ministry does not disclose the share of security costs. "For reasons of security, it is not possible to itemise the share of smaller expenses from the total costs," the ministry adds.

Travel charges

The government claims that it has charged returnees for their travel expenses and documents.

"Each assisted person has been charged their own travel expenses to Finland and the price of their travel documents. Indirect costs incurred by public authorities, such as their travel and accommodation expenses or expenses arising from security arrangements are not charged from citizens," the government says.

The assistance assignment is not over. Based on the Government Resolution of 19 December 2019, the activities led by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs continue in compliance with the provisions of the Constitution of Finland and international treaties.

"The security situation in the al-Hol camp has deteriorated during the winter. Unknown perpetrators have assassinated more than 40 people during the first months of 2021, most of them in the Iraqi part of the camp. Seven children and two women died in a tent fire at the end of February. Children in the annex for foreign nationals do not have access to adequate healthcare or education. The growth environment in the camp is characterised by a radical ideology and absence of future prospects," the Foreign Office explains.

"The camps in northeast Syria constitute a long-term security risk also for Europe. The longer the children are kept in a radicalising environment without education or protection the graver the risks. There are no perfect solutions. For Finland's security, the worst option is to leave the children in the camps," the Foreign Office adds.

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