Sweden’s Foreign Minister has said the country is working to facilitate the return to Sweden of children of Swedish nationals who travelled overseas to join the Isis terror group.
“The government is now working intensively so that children with a connection to Sweden who are in Syria get the help they need,” Foreign Minister Margot Wallström wrote in a Facebook post on Friday afternoon.
“There should not be any doubt that the government is doing what we can for these children and, if possible, they will be brought to Sweden.”
Her statement comes after public demonstrations in Sweden for the children of Swedish Isis fighters to be brought back to the Scandinavian country. Around 80 children of Swedes who travelled overseas to fight for the terrorist group Isis are thought to be in a refugee camp in a Kurdish-controlled part of Syria.
The head of the charity Save the Children has also urged for the government to do more to help these children, saying: “Such a situation, when it comes to Swedish children who are innocent of their parents’ crimes, is very difficult. There are very difficult conditions. Many children [in the camp] are malnourished, have pneumonia or other illnesses, so it is an extremely dangerous place to be.”
On Friday, Wallström said that each case would be dealt with individually. “The children are in different situations, some perhaps orphans, others with parents who have been arrested for actions they carried out for Isis. Identifying Swedish citizens, who may have been born there [in Syria], is difficult,” she explained.
She said that the government was in contact with the Red Cross which has workers at the camps, and said that Swedish authorities needed to work together with Swedish municipal authorities – which might become responsible for the care of children, in the absence of relatives who can look after them – and international authorities.
“It is of the greatest importance that the situation of the children is dealt with according to the rule of law and with focus on what’s best for the children,” the minister added.
It is estimated that around 300 people have left Sweden to join terror groups in Syria and Iraq since 2012. Roughly half of them are believed to have returned to Sweden, while around 50 are thought to have been killed and another 100 remain in the region.