Amnesty calls on newly re-elected French president Macron to repatriate kids from Syria camps
Amnesty International called on newly re-elected French president Emmanuel Macron to fulfill his campaign promise to bring home 200 French children stranded in dire conditions in camps in northeast Syria.
"We request that the 200 French children detained in Syria in spite of all rules of law, be repatriated without delay," the human rights watchdog said in a statement released on Sunday night, immediately after Macron's victory was announced.
Located in northeastern Syria's Hasakeh province, the Al-Hol and Roj camps are home to about 60,000 people from dozens of countries. Many of them are women and children related to alleged Islamic State group fighters.
Human rights groups and the Kurdish-led authorities in northeast Syria have long urged countries to take back their citizens. But many Western countries, France included, are reluctant to do so - citing security concerns over bringing suspected current or former IS supporters home.
So far, France has only repatriated 35 children from the camps in northeast Syria, on a "case by case" basis. It has also allegedly pressured Kurdish authorities to deny access to the camp to French families trying to visit their detained relatives.
Child mortality is rampant in these camps, due to dire living conditions. More than 60 children died in the Al-Hol camp in 2021 alone, according to the NGO Save the Children. An estimated 16 percent of children in the camp are severely malnourished.
In its Sunday statement, Amnesty also called on the French state to improve its treatment of asylum seekers and to stop all arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, "countries which are taking part in a coalition allegedly responsible for war crimes in Yemen".