Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 November 2019

Child whose mother joined ISIS in Syria reunited with father in Italy

The boy's father had pleaded with authorities to allow his son to return home

Alvin, 11, at a meeting where he was handed over to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Damascus, Syria. AFP
Alvin, 11, at a meeting where he was handed over to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Damascus, Syria. AFP

An 11-year-old Albanian boy whose mother took him to Syria when she joined ISIS returned to Italy to join his father.

The boy, Alvin, smiled as he stepped off the plane in Rome after arriving on Friday morning from Beirut.

Red Cross and Red Crescent staff worked with the Albanian and Italian government officials to arrange his return following pleas from his father.

Italian police who worked on the case said the boy's mother died a few steps away from him amid fighting in north-east Syria.

The search for Alvin in Syria began after his father, Afrim Berisha, who lives in Italy, wrote to Italian authorities asking for help to find him.

Mr Berisha had a brief reunion with his son at a crowded detention camp in Syria a few weeks ago but was not immediately allowed to bring him home.

The issue of youngsters stranded in camps in Syria is a major concern for European nations.

There are thought to be more than 9,500 foreign children in the camps.

More than 60 British children of ISIS members are currently in eastern Syria, according to Save the Children.

The refugees, many of whom are under the age of five, are mostly living in the Roj and Al-Hawl displacement camps.

The UK does not allow adults who left the country to join ISIS to return home.

Save the Children said that Britain should now seek to repatriate all children in Syria.

“Children whose parents are alive are just as innocent as those who have been orphaned,” Alison Griffin, the charity’s head of conflict and humanitarian campaigns, said.

“All have been put through unimaginable horrors."

The UN said hundreds of the children were unaccompanied.

Kurdish authorities have repeatedly called on western countries to repatriate their citizens linked to ISIS, but the response has been discouraging.

Austria, Germany, France and Belgium, however, have taken a few orphans home, while the US has repatriated several women and their children.

Updated: November 10, 2019 03:25 PM

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