MEP Yana Toom (Centre) has said that the children of European citizens in Syria and Iraq should be brought back to their home countries, Baltic News Service reports.
Toom sent a question to European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, regarding activity planned by the commission for enabling children whose EU citizen-holding parents have at some point gone to Iraq or Syria to return to their home countries, the MEP's office said. The statistics include those who have gone to fight for ISIS/Daesh in the region.
Toom cited data from the Egmont Institute – The Royal Institute for International Relations in Belgium – which says there are 450-500 adult EU citizens and 700-750 children of EU citizens held in three Syrian refugee camps. In addition, many children have been born to EU citizens in Iraq and Syria since 2012, but there is not enough data available for a full picture, BNS reports.
"The safe return of children to their homeland must be a priority for all EU countries," Toom said.
The inquiry, signed by several members of the ALDE/Renew Europe group in the European Parliament, announced the start of the process of children's return to their home country by France, Sweden and Germany, albeit at a very slow pace.
Up to now, France has accepted a reported 18 children, Switzerland seven and Germany less than 10. Finland has also announced that it will begin to bring home women and children of ISIS fighters when and where the opportunity arises.
Toom noted that the return of ISIS fighters to their home country is a very complex issue as, in some cases, these are women who have participated in attacks.
"However, the children are not to blame. And to blame children for the crimes committed by their parents is inhumane," the MEP said.
Toom added that Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Russia, Kosovo and Turkey had accepted 1,200 of their own citizens, most of whom were children.
Editor: Andrew Whyte