“What we saw there, I think nobody would like to see in their whole life. It was a shock of our life. From my side and from the two officers and one captain from the General Security. We were shocked! We really had tears in our eyes, and maybe it gave us strength in order to continue this operation and help the Albanians to come back home. The situation there is dramatic”, these are the words that Albania’s Honorary Consul in Lebanon, Marc I. Ghorayeb, used to describe the rescue operation of the five Albanian nationals, among whom four minors, from the gruesome conditions at the Al-Hol camp in Syria.
During an interview with Ilva Tare on Euronews Albania, Ghorayeb said that after rescuing Alvin Berisha, they immediately began working on the operation amid a “straightforward order from Prime Minister Edi Rama” to return home the other children stranded in war torn areas in Syria.
The Consul, who is of an Albanian descent, said that the pandemic delayed the first phase of the rescue mission which could have taken place since February and reiterated that the operation is still ongoing.
“The order was issued from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Prime Minister Rama, as well as the Ministry of Interior and minister Lleshaj. The only people involved in this case are Rama, Lleshaj, Ghorayeb, Gledis Nano and Endrid Doda”, added the consul as he underlined the challenges and dangers posed encountered during the operation.
“We began the operation on the ground a month and a half ago. I called minister Lleshaj and told him to come to Lebanon on Monday and he did. It was very hard to get the visas for the two police officers, but we made it through thanks to our “guardian angel”, General Abbas Ibrahim, whom I trust a lot and he loves Albanians”, said Ghorayeb.
Four minors and a wounded woman were rescued this week during the first phase of the rescue mission which seeks to return to their homeland Albanian citizens trapped at camps in the Middle East.
Is there hope for other Albanians that are in the other camps? – was one of the questions posed from journalist Ilva Tare to the Albanian consul in Lebanon.
Ghorayeb replied that the mission is “still ongoing”, but this will not occur by gathering all the people that were there, but that the evacuation plan will be conducted throughout several phases, in order to guarantee that they are “safe, secure, healthy and living in a proper environment”.
The Consul did not give any details on the parties involved in the rescue mission as it may undermine the operation.
Ghorayeb said that no ransom was paid to free the Albanian citizens and the operation was a “humanitarian case”.
Dangers from radicalized Albanians returning from Syria
Is Albania threatened from the repatriated nationals who have waged Jihad in the Middle East?
The Albanian Honorary Consul Ghorayeb responded that even though it is true that many people are radicalized many of them can return to normal if they receive proper and specialized treatment from experts.
“The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria putting the wrong people in jail. It is true that a lot of people are radicalised but they can undergo psychological treatments and by adjusting their mind they can get back to life. This is considered a humanitarian case; we have to get these people back to life or we are going to kill them with our own hands. By bringing these people to live with their families and in their nation again, we will be giving them a lot of hope, especially if they are children”, said the consul.
According to Ghorayeb, the freed citizens will be subjected to continuous monitoring from authorities until they no longer pose a threat to the public.
Regarding some of those who refused to leave the camp, the Albanian consul said that some of them are “brainwashed” and believe that their mission is to stay there and fight for ISIS until they establish Caliphate.
“The others that are there are maybe afraid to return to reality, they live there in the desert and they are used to that. If you go there to the camp you’d go, it’s like hell. Its name it’s not really Al-Hol but Al-Hell” added the consul.
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