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Britain has abandoned citizens in Syria through 'systemic failure,' MPs say

Members of Parliament have accused the British government of abandoning its citizens in Syria

Members of Parliament have accused the British government of abandoning its citizens in Syria, as the UK remains one of the few countries that refuse to repatriate its nationals from detention camps in the country.

In a new report released by the all-Party Parliamentary Group on Trafficked Britons in Syria, a consortium of British MPs and peers, it was stressed that many women and children who fled to territories held by the terror group, Daesh, were "groomed, coerced or deceived into travelling to Syria".

The report called on the government to repatriate them and not to leave them stranded in the Kurdish-run camps of northeast Syria, where they have been detained since the military defeat of Daesh in 2019. The UK's failure to rescue them and take responsibility, the all-parliamentary group asserted, would jeopardise both global and national security.

It also targeted the failure of Britain's policing system to prevent the luring and trafficking of individuals, especially women and girls, to Daesh territory. "These were not isolated incidents; rather this was a systemic failure to combat Daesh trafficking operations," the report stated.

A number of human rights groups contributed to the report and worked beside the all-parliamentary group in its inquiry, including Reprieve, Cage, Human Rights Watch, the Institute of Race Relations, Save the Children and the Soufan Centre.

READ: US, UK, China and France named and 'shamed' by UN for not repatriating citizens from Syria

The process was conducted over a period of six months, in which evidence such as information and testimonies were gathered from a number of former security officials. Those figures include Christopher Harnisch, the former deputy Coordinator for Countering Violent Extremism at the US State Department, and Richard Barrett, the former director of Global Counter-terrorism Operations at MI6.

Barrett, on his part, condemned the government's depriving and revoking of the citizenship belonging to some of those Britons stranded in Syria, saying that there is a failure to outline the real level of threat posed by the individuals.

The restrictions on the Britons had been "imposed without a clear national security justification", he stated, adding that London "has sought to use the classic trope of secret intelligence on certain individuals being so significant that 'if you knew what [the government knew], you would not question stripping citizenship'".

The vice-chair of the all-party group, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, also condemned the government's misuse of its powers to arbitrarily strip citizenship and refuse to repatriate British nationals, saying it is used "almost exclusively against Muslims, and is now seeking to extend these Draconian powers, signalling to Britons from minority communities that their rights can easily be taken away".

She added that "To break this damaging cycle of alienation, we urgently need to listen to victims and their families – and the only way to do that is to bring British citizens home."

READ: Isn't it time to revoke Asma Al-Assad's British citizenship?

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