Around 7,000 children await rescue in the hugely overcrowded refugee camps of North Eastern Syria. It’s been over a year since the last stand of ISIS at Baguz and many have been in the refugee camps longer than that. Children and babies have suffered war, bombardment, malnourishment and now the Coronavirus, with no hope of medical care.
Humanitarian groups are no longer able to access the camps and Turkish backed militia threaten water supplies. Some of these children are British citizens but none of them have been offered repatriation flights.
Overall there still remain 11,000 foreign women and children in Al Hol camp, all of whom are living in unsafe and overcrowded conditions. Many have spent their whole lives in a warzone
As of June 2020, local security forces are said to have begun a registration campaign for foreign women and children. They aim to count and register all of the inhabitants of Al Hol camp and then allegedly improve their living conditions. France is the most recent foreign government of several who have already repatriated some of their citizens. They have recognised the importance of bringing children home to safety.
Many children in the camps suffer untreated post-traumatic stress disorder while all suffer malnourishment, limited access to water, no access to medical care or supplies and now Coronavirus. Children are separated in the camps from their mothers at 12 and face the threat of becoming radicalised themselves. There is no formal education and some as old as 9 years can’t read or write.
At least 60 of these children, almost all under 12, are born to UK nationals. The UK government can rescue them from this peril and bring them home to the UK now. In November 2019 the UK Foreign Office proved that it is possible to achieve this goal when they repatriated 3 orphans, however most children in the camps are with their mothers. Stripping their citizenship and abandoning them to their fate does not address the issue that without rescue and rehabilitation, they will potentially be reclaimed by the Caliphate many originally fled.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child Article 20 (1) states,
…a child temporarily or permanently deprived of his or her family environment, or in whose own best interests cannot be allowed to remain in that environment, shall be entitled to special protection and assistance provided by the State.
IOHR is calling for the UK government to change all these young lives and act now:
Bring UK children home from Syrian refugee camps now.
Provide clarity on how relatives can apply to become legal guardians if it is in the best interests of an orphan.
For accompanied children, be sensitive to what is best for their needs and bring their mothers with them.
Ensure there is effective psychological support for children and rehabilitation capabilities for their mothers.
To be part of a task force to evacuate as many foreign children as possible to alleviate some of the suffering of the Syrians unable to leave the country.
Turkey has begun its promised deportation of I.S members that are being held in camps. There are a reported 813 militants being held at 12 deportation centres across Turkey; the majority of whom will be sent back to … Read more →