Top celebrities call on UK government to repatriate British families in northeast Syria – Middle East Monitor

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June 13, 2023 at 11:49 am
A picture shows al-Hol camp, which holds relatives of suspected Islamic State (IS) group fighters in the northeastern Hasakeh governorate, on December 6, 2021 [DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP via Getty Images]
Top celebrities including Olivia Coleman and Stephen Fry have called on ministers to bring home British families trapped in detention camps in northeast Syria.
In an open letter to the British government also signed by several NGOs including Human Rights Watch (HRW) and War Child, signatories urged the UK government to repatriate around 25 British families being unlawfully detained in northeast Syria.
Most of the British detainees are children under ten years old, according to the open letter.
In October last year, Save the Children said there are more than 60 British children trapped in northeast Syria.
Older children who lived under Daesh have witnessed beheadings and other acts of horrifying cruelty and are in urgent need of medical and psychological care.
In the camps they do not have enough food or water and hundreds of children have died from diseases, violence, and have untended injuries, like shrapnel wounds.
The letter states that the British families are being unlawfully held in conditions found to amount to cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment and torture.
“These British families have been abandoned by their governments and live in squalid conditions where they are exposed daily to life-threatening violence, disease and other deprivations.”
Young British boys and girls are growing up in this dangerous environment, with very limited access to education, sufficient food, clean water and shelter and medical care simply because the government refuse to bring these families back to their home country.
Human rights groups have been for years pressuring the governments of countries with foreign nationals in the camps to repatriate them.
Last week, a group of Australian women and children along with Save the Children Australia announced that they were taking the Australian government to court to try and secure repatriation.
READ: Australian women in Syria detention camps take gov’t to court
CEO of Save the Children Australia said that the country’s unwillingness to bring the children home is a “source of international shame.”
Of particular concern is what will happen to boys as they grow older, as they risk being removed from the camps and placed in adult prisons away from their mothers where they are even more vulnerable to abuse, including torture and being forcibly disappeared.
Australian teenager Yusuf Zahab died last year in an adult prison after being trafficked into Syria in 2015 when he was just 11.
“Britain should take responsibility for its citizens, not seek to cast them out into a legal black hole in dire conditions,” the open letter added.
“Repatriating poses less risk than abandoning them in northeast Syria, where hardliners could break out and regroup and children would fall prey to ISIS overtures, as a host of counter-terrorism experts including a former director of MI6 have stated. It is also morally the right thing to do.”

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