Syria hands over orphaned ISIS children to Russia

Moscow has also been repatriating children abandoned in Iraq since the collapse of ISIS

Kurdish authorities in northeast Syria have handed 34 orphaned children whose parents were suspected of belonging to ISIS to a Russian delegation to be repatriated.

An AFP correspondent in the city of Qamishli said the children aged between three and 14 were handed over to a delegation headed by Anna Kuznetsova, the Russian president's envoy for children's rights.

Moscow has now repatriated at least 169 such children, Fener Al Kait of the Syrian Kurdish Foreign Affairs department told AFP at a handover ceremony.

He said other departures to the Russian Federation of orphaned children would follow from north-east Syria.

Moscow has also been repatriating children abandoned in Iraq since the collapse of the ISIS so-called caliphate straddling both states.

Syria's Kurds have repeatedly urged the international community to repatriate foreign nationals held in crowded camps in northeast Syria.

Their calls have largely fallen on deaf ears with only limited numbers, mostly children, allowed to return home so far.

Last February, the UN has named and shamed 57 nations for failing to repatriate almost 10,000 people, mostly women and children, associated with ISIS who are being held in "sub-human" conditions in camps in north-east Syria.

Britain, the US, France and Sweden were among the nations being criticised by UN rights experts who are urging them to take "immediate" action.

Rights groups have been pressuring European governments to allow children to return from the crowded and desolate camps.

Kurdish officials have also been pressuring countries to take back their citizens, warning that they do not have the resources to guard prisoners indefinitely.

France has insisted it will only take back children. Mothers will remain behind to face local justice but many of the women have refused to be separated from their children.

There are 9,462 women and children among the 64,600 people being held in "squalid" conditions at the Al Hol and Roj camps, which are run by Syrian Kurdish authorities.

Most of the residents are Iraqis and Syrians.

Published: April 19, 2021 01:21 PM

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