Sweden prepares to receive up to 80 children caught in IS conflict in Syria

Source: Xinhua| 2019-04-16 01:08:14|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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STOCKHOLM, April 15 (Xinhua) -- Nearly three weeks after U.S.-backed forces declared victory over the so-called Islamic State (IS) in Syria, the Swedish Security Service (SAPO) is preparing Sweden to receive up to 80 children caught in the conflict.

Swedish News SVT reported on Monday that SAPO has notified several Swedish municipalities to prepare to receive children believed to be in camps in Syria.

SAPO has not commented on the number of children affected, but last week Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported from Syria that around 60 children with Swedish parents who joined the IS were now in camps. The list includes children born in Sweden as well as those born in areas controlled by the IS.

If and when the children could return to Sweden is unclear.

"We are talking about children who were in the conflict area a few weeks ago. Given how (the situation) it is there, it is not certain that these children are still (in the camps) or still alive," Christina Kiernan, Stockholm's coordinator against violent extremism, told Dagens Nyheter.

According to SAPO press secretary Sofia Hellqvist, SAPO has an obligation to notify local social services when it suspects children under the jurisdiction of that location could be in need of assistance.

"What we are doing now is notifying (municipalities) about children who are in the conflict area in Syria. It is a way for the municipalities to be able to prepare for if and when these children come back," Hellqvist told SVT.

The cities of Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmo and Orebro are among the municipalities requested to prepare for children returning from Syria. The children may be in need of emergency medical treatment, vaccinations, mental health support and, if the parents are deemed unfit, broader social services.

According to SAPO, since 2012 around 300 people have traveled from Sweden to Syria and Iraq in order to join the conflict, primarily the IS. In 2019, about half of them have returned to Sweden, including children.