GENEVA: Two Swiss half-sisters whose mother took them out of the country with her when she joined the Daesh militant group in the Middle East in 2016 have been repatriated from a desert camp in northeastern Syria, the Swiss Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.
The older girl, now 15, had suffered a severe shrapnel wound to her leg, requiring three operations, while the younger was said to be in poor health.
The ministry confirmed that it had repatriated the two minors from the Al-Roj camp in northeast Syria.
“The children arrived on Swiss soil on Dec. 6 at Geneva airport, having passed through Iraq,” it said in a statement.
The repatriation, believed to be the first of its kind to Switzerland, was carried out with the consent of their mother.
The government has previously said she was still in the camp and has several nationalities, although her Swiss citizenship had been withdrawn for security reasons. The girls have different fathers in Geneva.
The case had been raised by UN human rights experts in April.
The experts said then that the girls had been allegedly abducted in 2016 by their mother who joined Daesh. A senior Swiss official said at the time that it was working hard to have the girls sent home.
More than 60,000 people, two-thirds of them children, are held in camps for families associated with Daesh. The International Committee of the Red Cross, which visits the camps, has described them as a “tragedy in plain sight.”