The government in France has repatriated ten children who are French nationals from camps in north-east Syria, the Foreign Ministry in Paris announced today.
Held in the infamous camps under the control of the Kurdish militias across northern and north-east Syria, the children come from families linked to the Daesh terror group, which has largely been defeated over the past few years. It was revealed last November that up to 750 children of European nationals are stuck in these camps.
According to the co-chair of the foreign relations commission of the Kurdish Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, Abdulkarim Omar, the children were classed as “orphaned and humanitarian cases”.
They were handed over to a French delegation in the city of Qamishli. The French Foreign Ministry said that the youngsters are “now subject to specific medical follow-up care and are in the care of social services.”
The decision by France to repatriate its citizens comes after years of debate within European nations on whether their nationals who fled to Syria to join Daesh should be allowed to return.
Some have had their citizenship revoked, such as the former UK national Shamima Begum. In many cases, citizenship has even been revoked from aid workers and journalists who did not join Daesh or any militant group.
Most countries in Europe have refused to repatriate their citizens due to fears that they could pose a threat to national security. Rights groups have called for that position to change on humanitarian grounds, especially since the individuals and families involved are stuck in camps during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
While the surviving husbands and fathers who fought with Daesh are detained in prisons controlled by the Kurdish militias, their wives and children have been kept in limbo in the camps, with a limited number of children of European nationals being repatriated.
Britain, for example, launched the repatriation process for the orphans of deceased British Daesh fighters last November, and told a British mother in January this year that her four children could return to the country if she remains in Syria.