Speaker of the parliament Mohamed Nasheed has stated that 40 Maldivian children are currently in Syria.
Speaking to the Sri Lankan media during his ongoing visit to the neighboring nation, the former president said the Maldivian government is aware of the locations and actions of Maldivians in the war-torn country, and assured that the government has full control over the issue. He also revealed that while no fighters or their family in Syria have returned to Maldives thus far, the government will be aware of their return at any point.
While there are discrepancies in the estimated number of Maldivians in Syria, at least 16 Maldivians including 30-40 children are in Syria, Nasheed estimated,
Nasheed said the government's concern are the children stuck in the unfortunate situation, some of whose nationality cannot be confirmed as they may have been fathered by Maldivian men or Syrian men and born to Maldivian women.
Stating that bringing the Maldivian refugees back to the Maldives is an international issue, it is not possible to bring back the refugees back to the country in their current situation, said Nasheed. The Maldives does not have the capacity to provide rehabilitation to the refugees to ensure that their return and re-integration back into the society would not pose have any negative impacts on the community, he added.
Nasheed further said he believes countries must get together for discussion on how to tackle the issue and expressed hope that international protocols are arranged in the future to resolve the issue. While he does not believe putting the refugees on the first flight out of the country is the solution, he is of the opinion that the refugees should be accepted back into a society even its not in their own countries, where they can be assisted in being re-integrated back into normal life.
Stating that all religious sermons in Maldives are given after seeking a special permit from the Islamic Ministry, a special council at the ministry is tasked with issuing the permits,, informed Nasheed. The government of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih is working with religious groups, parties and associations and discussions continue to take place between the groups and the government said Nasheed.
However, scholars who spread extremist religious ideologues still exist in the Maldives, said Nasheed.
Nasheed is currently visiting Sri Lanka along with Vice President Faisal Naseem and other delegates. The visit is primarily aimed at showing solidarity with Easter Sunday attacks in the country and is being arranged upon the invitation of Sri Lankan government.