The international community should decide the fate of Maldivian citizens living in Syria who want to return home, former president and current parliamentary Speaker Mohamed Nasheed has said.
Speaking to the Sri Lankan media on Saturday, Nasheed, who was promoting tourism in the country, urged the international community to help the Maldives rehabilitate the returnees before they are brought back to their home country.
“We do not know the situation they have gone through. We don’t have the capacity to rehabilitate these people to the extent that they will not have a further impact on society,” Nasheed was quoted as saying on the Indian pay television news channel WION.
The returnees could be taken to a different country for rehabilitation before they are returned to their home country, Nasheed suggested.
“I think the international community should join together and decide what we should do to the returnees. Hopefully, there is an international arrangement where they are first received, not necessarily their countries of origin or nationality,” he said.
Six Maldivian families living in a Syrian camp have asked the government to allow them to return to the Maldives, the Counter-Terrorism Centre said in February.
In April a document listing 42 Maldivians, all widows and children of Maldivian men who joined the fighting, was leaked on social media.
Nasheed said he does not believe that Maldivians in Syria should be brought back to the Maldives immediately, without rehabilitation.
“I don’t think we should say they can come back on the first flight they can catch,” he said.
The US-based security and risk management consultancy The Soufan Group has said around 200 to 250 Maldivians are known to have fought in Syria and Iraq, making the Maldives the highest contributor of foreign fighters per capita to ISIS of any nation not directly involved in the fighting.