HELSINKI – Refugee camp returnees open political trenches

Three Finnish women and their nine children landed in Helsinki after escaping from the Syrian al-Hol refugee camp, according to a statement by Finland’s foreign affairs ministry on Sunday evening (31 May). Although these women were presumed to be married to ISIS fighters and may pose a future security risk according to the Finnish Intelligence and Security Service (SUPO), they could not, as Finnish citizens, be legally denied entry into the country. 

To ensure their arrival, the foreign affairs ministry confirmed that Finnish officials did not assist the families during their escape from the camp and journey through Syria and that travel documents were given to them at the Finnish embassy in Ankara “in cooperation with the Turkish authorities”. The families are said to have paid their flight tickets via Minsk to Helsinki. However, the far-right Finns Party has seized the opportunity to score political points.

“Ministers are lying, officials are lying, everyone is lying. To bring in people from the horribly violent ISIS movement,” Finns Party MP Riikka Purra told the party’s newspaper, Suomen Uutiset.

Prime Minister, Sanna Marin (SDP) has admitted to security concerns and described the situation as “challenging”, including when it comes to children’s rights.

The saga, which started last autumn, is also proving to be costly for the long-time political golden boy, Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green), who is being investigated by both the parliament and the police over suspicions that he sidelined a civil servant who refused to cooperate when efforts were made last autumn to repatriate Finns from the al-Hol camp.

Before that, the foreign minister was tipped to become Finland’s next President, however, confidence in him has dropped dramatically. (Pekka Vänttinen | EURACTIV.com)

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