Over 6,000 foreign children trapped in ‘dire’ Syria camps 5 years after defeat of IS

Over 6,000 foreign children trapped in ‘dire’ Syria camps 5 years after defeat of IS
The charity Save the Children says that over 6,000 foreign children remain in notorious camps in Syria, as countries stop repatriating their nationals.
2 min read
23 March, 2024
Over 70% of the residents of the Al-Hol and Roj camps are children under 12 [Getty]

The charity Save the Children said on Saturday that over 6,000 foreign children linked to Islamic State remained trapped in camps in Syria, living in dire conditions.

It said that five years after IS was territorially defeated in Syria, 6,160 children remain trapped in the notorious Al-Hol and Roj camps, where over 70% of the population are under 12.

The two camps, which are controlled by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are notorious for overcrowding, violence, unsanitary conditions and disease. Save the Children said that in 2024 so far, countries had repatriated their citizens at a rate 50% lower than in the same period last year.

Kyrgyzstan was the only country to repatriate its nationals, with 99 Kyrgyz citizens - 27 women and 72 children - returning to their country from the camps in 2024. By contrast 180 people returned to eight countries in 2023.

Save the Children criticised the situation as “a step in the wrong direction”, drawing attention to Sweden’s announcement that it would not repatriate any more children from the Syrian camps.

“The appalling decision would condemn children to poor conditions and violence,” Save the Children said.

The charity also said that there were also thousands of Syrian and Iraqi children at the camps.

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“We need more safe repatriations – not less.  For five years, children have been trapped in these awful camps, abandoned by their governments. They deserve safety, education, and care. Fewer repatriations shows that governments are turning their backs on these children. Governments ignore their duty, leaving children stuck in misery,” Rasha Muhrez, Save the Children’s Syria country director said.