5 women, 14 children repatriated from Syria back to Albania
Five women and 14 children from the families of Albanian nationals who joined Islamist extremist groups fighting in Syria and Iraq on Sunday returned to their homeland from Syria’s Al Hol camp.
Flying from Lebanon they were accompanied by Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and Interior Minister Bledi Cuci.
“It is a very positive event, I believe, and, of course, we shall not stop here,” said Rama at a news conference at Tirana international airport.
The 19 women and children will be taken to a shelter in the western port city of Durres where police and social experts will “make all the necessary medical and psychological examinations, to be followed by a quarantine period,” after which some may be allowed to rejoin their families.
Rama did not say whether the women would be prosecuted.
This is the third effort at repatriating Albanians from Syria.
In October last year five Albanians were repatriated, while a child returned to the country in 2019.
A few hundred Albanian men joined the Islamic State and other groups fighting in Syria and Iraq over the past decade. Many were killed, and their wives and children are still stuck in Syrian camps.
Around 30 other women and children are believed to be in Syrian camps but Rama said that the number is unclear, adding that two women had refused to get in contact for repatriation, fearing for their lives.
About two-thirds of Albania’s 2.85 million people are Muslims.