France Repatriates 47 Nationals From Syrian Camps

France has repatriated 47 women and children from prison camps in northeast Syria where families with suspected ties to the Islamic State group (IS) are held.

France Repatriates 47 Nationals From Syrian Camps
Image credit: AFP [via Aljazeera]

Facts

  • France has repatriated 47 women and children from prison camps in northeast Syria where families with suspected ties to the Islamic State group (IS) are held.
  • Fifteen women and 32 children were repatriated. The French Foreign Minister says that the repatriated adults were handed over to the "competent judicial authorities" and that the children were delivered to child assistance services and will undergo appropriate medical and social monitoring.
  • This is France's third large-scale repatriation, with the previous ones taking place in October when France repatriated 15 women and 40 children, and in July, when 16 women and 35 children were returned.
  • When IS was territorially defeated, many of the family members of IS fighters ended up in refugee camps. The transfer of these foreign detainees and their family members has become a highly-controversial issue, with the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) issuing a statement that it may soon be forced to abandon the camps.
  • The women and children repatriated on Tuesday were living in the Roj camp in northeast Syria, which is under Kurdish control.
  • The total number of foreign nationals repatriated since 2019 is about 1,530 women and children.

Sources: Middle East Eye, DW, France24, Al Jazeera, and Reliefweb.

Narratives

  • Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by Al Jazeera. France is not doing enough to repatriate its citizens languishing in refugee camps in Syria. France is violating the UN Convention Against Torture by refusing to help these women and children suffering from violence and poverty. By being deliberately slow in repatriating its citizens, Paris is condemning thousands of children to a life of trauma and violence, which will only deepen their extremist beliefs.
  • Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by Lowy. The repatriated families of IS fighters pose both a physical and ideological threat to the nations they are returned to. While children can be rehabilitated, the women who intentionally brought or raised families in the Islamic State should be held accountable for their actions by their nations of origin and charged with terrorism or other related offenses. While repatriation should happen, this shouldn't be done hastily.