The repatriation of thousands of children who have been repatriated to camps in the northeast of Syria for suspected members of ISIL (ISIS) is making you more difficult with the policies of several governments, especially in Europe, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said.
“Our inquiries and research found that while many children are successfully returning to their new communities, the decisions of some governments have made that return more difficult, and in some cases, even harmful,” the New York-based organization said. report released on Monday.
HRW reported that in some countries, including Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and Sweden, “authorities have separated children from their mothers immediately upon arrival, either because the mother is being investigated or accused of ISIS-related crimes”.
“Some respondents said that the most painful experience in their children’s lives was not the hardships in the camps, but being separated from their mothers when they arrived in their new country,” the group added.
The report is based on the experience of more than 100 children, aged between two and 17, who were returned – or, in some cases, brought back for the first time – to their country of origin between 2019 and 2022. Most were returned. or returned from northeastern Syria, and a few were returned from Iraq.
In 2019, when the United States-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) overthrew ISIL’s last stronghold in Baghouz, northeastern Syria, the SDF relocated thousands of people living under ISIL to makeshift prisons and detention centers. Those arrested include suspected ISIL fighters and their relatives from more than 60 countries.
Since 2019, nearly 1,500 countries have repatriated or facilitated the return of some of those arrested, including more than 1,500 children, according to HRW. Denmark, Finland, Germany, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Russia, Sweden, Tajikistan, Ukraine, the US, and Uzbekistan are among the countries that have now returned many or most of their citizens.
HRW said that as of September 2022, the SDF still held about 56,000 people – almost all women and children – in al-Hol and Roj, two heavily guarded camps in northeast Syria surrounded by barbed wire. Of them, more than 18,000 are Syrians, about 28,000 from neighboring Iraq, and more than 10,000 are women and children from many other foreign countries.
Of the non-Aram people in the camps, more than 60 percent are children. No foreigner in the camps and prisons has been charged with any crime, HRW said. “And no one appeared before the judge to see if they are legal and the need for their arrest. Therefore, their detention is illegal.”
Although the families of Syrian boys in prison can visit them, the boys in foreign detention are not allowed to speak in person or on the phone with their mothers and relatives in the camps, interviewees told HRW. Several hundred foreign youths are also being held in detention centers or in military prisons belonging to the nearly 10,000 men suspected of belonging to ISIL.
Those who remain in the camps “live in danger and are so humiliated that they are at risk of torture”, HRW said.
“Prisoners do not have enough food, water, and shelter, and hundreds, including children, have died from preventable diseases, accidents, and violence in the camps,” they added.
In their opinion, the human rights group said that governments should return all their citizens as soon as possible and ensure that all mothers or other elderly caregivers with their children can return home immediately, there is no evidence that separation is good for the child, in accordance with international law related to family unity”.