20:17 GMT20 April 2021
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    Until now, the Danish government has flatly refused to take back children from the camps, primarily citing security reasons. Despite pressure from allies, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen emphasised that she had no intention of helping their parents, who, according to her, "turned their backs on Denmark".

    In a surprising change of heart, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has signalled the government's readiness to repatriate 19 children with links to Denmark from internment camps in northern Syria, TV2 reported.

    These children are currently in the Kurdish-controlled camps al-Hol and al-Roj, which both house former militants and supporters of Daesh*. The children are there because their Danish mothers travelled to the Middle East to join the terrorist cause.

    "There are children who have ended up in a very unfortunate situation due to their parents' very wrong choices. We've always said we wanted to help those children", Frederiksen said, following a meeting with fellow leaders of allied left-wing parties who act as sidekicks for her minority Social Democrat government.

    Until now, the government has refused to take the children from the camps, primarily citing security reasons. In January, Frederiksen said that "if helping the children means their parents are also helped to get to Denmark, then we can't make that choice".

    Nevertheless, the Danish intelligence service FE has warned that leaving them in Syria poses more of a potential security risk to Denmark than repatriating them. Numerous newspaper reports, including a recent one by Ekstra Bladet, indicated that the children are at perennial risk of radicalisation by Daesh activists.

    Furthermore, Fionnuala D. Ní Aoláin, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedom, slammed Denmark's refusal to repatriate the children from a humanitarian standpoint.

    It remains to be clarified just exactly how the children would be repatriated, as well as the future of their mothers, who could face prosecution in Denmark if they returned to the country.

    Frederiksen emphasised that she only wants to help the children and has no intention of helping the mothers, who, she ventured, had "turned their backs on Denmark". Danish Foreign Minister and Frederiksen party colleague Jeppe Kofod has been facing mounting criticism from the opposition and allies alike over the lack of transparency on the matter.

    The government's support parties of the Red-Green Alliance, the Social Liberals and the Socialist Left, argue that the children should be brought to Denmark, even though it would imply that their mothers follow as well.

    The Danish Foreign Ministry recently released a count of the number of Danish nationals, including women and children, who are currently at the two camps.

    A total of 19 children aged between 0 and 14 years, who are either children of Danish citizens or former Danish citizens, or otherwise "connected to them", are known to be accommodated at the camps. However, their Danish citizenship is "not confirmed", according to the ministry. Nine of them were born in Denmark and ten in conflict zones.

    The six mothers of the children in question have all said they wish to return to Denmark. Three of the six have had their Danish citizenship withdrawn administratively, according to earlier reports.

    * Daesh (ISIS/ISIL/"Islamic State") is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia and others countries.


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