MVR 1.8M incurred to repatriate five families stranded in Syria

Homeland Security Minister Ali Ihusan (C) speaks at a press conference on January 16, 2024. (Sun Photo/Infinite Moments/Mohamed Maave)

Homeland Security Minister Ali Ihsan, on Tuesday, said MVR 1.8 million was incurred to repatriate five families stranded in Syria consisting of 21 people.

Speaking to journalists after a press briefing on Tuesday afternoon regarding the repatriation – Minister Ihusan placed the cost at approximately USD 120,000 (MVR 1.8 million), detailing that the families were repatriated by chartering a flight of a private airline, which had accounted for most of the cost.

Over 100 Maldivians are believed to have fled to Syria for war, with an estimated 70 believed to have later died in the conflict.

The flight carrying 21 individuals from five families landed at Velana International Airport (VIA) at 05:02 am Tuesday.

They include six adults – four women and one 18-year-old man, and 15 children – the youngest of them just three years old.

The authorities tested their DNA to confirm their nationality, and liaised with Turkish authorities to repatriate them.

A team of 15 police officers flew to Turkey to collect the families on Sunday.

The families have been taken to the National Re-integration Center (NRC) in K. Himmafushi, where they will undergo assessments, rehabilitation and deradicalization.

The law dictates that they must stay there, for at least a year, before being reintegrated back into society.


Speaking at Tuesday’s press conference, Minister Ihusan noted that there were an additional 90 locals stranded in Syria, who have requested government intervention to allow them to return to the Maldives.

He added that efforts were underway to confirm their nationalities and other relevant information as authorities often do not receive complete information concerning the locals when they request government intervention to allow for their return.

Speaking further, Minister Ihusan said authorities have noticed that most locals travel to Syria due to the influence of a family member. As there are no direct flights to the conflict zone from the Maldives – he said they usually travel overseas to other nations citing a different purpose, and then flee to conflict zones via various routes.


“One family that was repatriated this time had traveled to India allegedly for medical purposes, and then proceeded to flee,” he noted.