From: Alice Taylor
Kosovo Repatriated 74 Children From Syria in 2019, Lleshaj Said Bringing Albanian Children Home is “Impossible”

Sander Lleshaj, the Albanian Minister of the Interior has said that repatriating adults from the Al Hol camp in Syria will be impossible.

Speaking via live link from Lebanon for Top Channel, Lleshaj said that due to the nature of the war, releasing the adults would be impossible.

“They are considered the losing side of an armed battle, there are adultes where who have to give an account and the release of the adults is almost impossible. For adultes there is another procedure, the authorities demand legal responsibility. For children, we are trying to save them from that hell,” he said.

But even the repatriation of children is complicated, he said.

“The return of children from they Al Hol camp is very complicated but we are discussing with the authorities to make it possible to evacuate those children.”

The Minister said that they are doing all they can to find a solution but has no good news yet. He said work is annoying with Kurdish, Syrian, and Lebanese authorities as well as religious groups.

Agron Shehaj, the representative of the Democratic Party accused Lleshaj of having direct responsibility for the people in the camp. Shehaj asked Lleshaj how many children Albania has successfully repatriated. Lleshaj responded that “the virus of politics should stay away from this” and he did not have any legal responsibility for it.

In February of this year, the Syrian Democratic Forces said they would begin trying foreign fighters in local administrative courts. They did not say what would become of those related to the fighters- the many women and children stuck in camps throughout the region.

As of November 2019, there are over 13,500 foreign women and children dispersed across three camps, including Al Hol. The largest of the three camps, it’s home to some 66,000 people, 10,000 of which are believed to be women and children.

European countries have had little interest in repatriating male fighters but have generally supported some returns, especially in the case of children and orphans. Over the last year, Kosovo has repatriated 74 children, France 17; Sweden; 7. Belgium; 6, Norway;5 and a handful to Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, the UK, Finland, and Denmark.

This shows that repatriations are logistically possible but that political will needs to be there. Most governments have adopted one of the following two policies; repatriating on a case-by-case basis as per requests, or repatriation of unaccompanied children. In the case of women, most countries have refused to assist stating that they are not obliged to assist adults who travelled there voluntarily.

Lleshaj said that since those repatriations the situation has changed due to the withdrawal of US troops.