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Kidnapped girl returns to Italy from Syria after five years

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Kidnapped girl returns to Italy from Syria after five years
File photo of damage to a street in Aleppo, where the girl was taken by her father. Photo: Joseph Eid/AFP
13:23 CET+01:00
A six-year-old girl has returned to Milan five years after being kidnapped by her Syrian father, the Italian foreign ministry has said.

Houda Emma Kharat was taken to Aleppo by her father when she was just over one year old, evading border controls when he left Italy in December 2011.

The TV show Le Iene, which often reports on political affairs, brought attention to the incident by telling the story of Kharat's mother, Alice Rossini from Milan.

"Today, finally, the story had a happy ending," said police on Friday, after Kharat was reunited with her mother at Milan's Malpensa airport. In a statement, the national police force said that Rossini had "put an end to her nightmare, clutching little Emma in her arms" just days before the child's seventh birthday.

The girl's father was arrested in Turkey and has been deported to Italy.

A police officer carrying the girl. Photo: Polizia di Stato

Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano said on Friday that "excellent collaboration" between Italian and Turkish authorities had led to the girl's safe return.

"The Turkish authorities, aware of the humanitarian value of the case, facilitated little Houda Emma's arrival from Syria and transit across Syria," he said on Friday. "This evening she will be embraced by her mother again."

Finally little Houda Emma returns home, kidnapped five years ago by her Syrian father. Excellent Italy-Turkey collaboration! Thanks everyone!


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