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Operating model guides authorities and NGOs in integrating returnees from conflict zone

Government Communications DepartmentMinistry of the Interior
Publication date 29.3.2017 14.34 | Published in English on 30.3.2017 at 12.44
Press release 133/2017

Comprehensive action with returnees from the conflict zone is important to the security of Finnish society. On 29 March the ministerial working group on internal security and administration of justice adopted a report and an operating model, prepared under the Ministry of the Interior. The objective is to reduce the possible risk of violence and radicalisation posed by the returnees by, among other things, promoting their integration into Finnish society.

“First, the activities of all of the returnees while in the conflict zone will be established. Those suspected of having committed offences will be held criminally liable for their acts. There are also people among the returnees, such as children, who are not suspected of offences, but whose integration back into society is important for the sake of security. They may need help, for instance, in disengaging from violent ideology or in processing traumas. There are many good international experiences regarding such measures,” says Tarja Mankkinen, Head of Development.

To date, the authorities have identified approximately 80 individuals that have travelled to the conflict zone in Syria and Iraq. They include men, women, families and children born in the area. So far, approximately 20 of them have returned to Finland. The report focuses on the returnees who are Finnish citizens or people allowed to return to Finland by virtue of valid residence permits. This being the case, the report does not address questions associated with preventing the returnees’ entry into Finland from the conflict zone.

No-one should be left outside the measures

The working group also addressed the work of the third sector and a manner for combining NGOs’ services with the action of the authorities. In practice, the authorities, NGOs and municipalities work together to ensure that no-one remains outside their action. Municipalities play an important role in dealing with the returnees. Also, the Anchor model, which helps socially excluded youths and is coordinated by the police, is an important actor in working with the returnees.

In addition to the action of the security authorities, the operating model proposed by the report includes measures that are within the purview of other authorities, such as the social and health and the education authorities. The model also requires the participation of NGOs. The report of the working group will be widely disseminated among participating actors and other relevant entities with the goal of promoting the introduction of the model.

The work takes into account international information and lessons learned. The UN Security Council urges the member states to intensify their action with the returnees from the conflict zone by comprehensively introducing criminal law measures as well as means that promote disengagement from violent, radical ideology and which improve the returnees’ integration into society. A similar comprehensive approach is also emphasised by the EU.

Proposal for Arranging Cross-sectoral Cooperation on Managing Returnees from Conflict Zones including a proposal for combining NGOs’ services with the action of the authorities

Inquiries: Tarja Mankkinen, Head of Development, tel. +358 295 488 370, Ministry of the Interior