UN letter calls for repatriating Australians from NE Syria

QAMISHLI, Syria (North Press) – UN Human Rights Council addressed a letter to the Australian government to raise concerns about 46 Australian citizens, including 30 children, held in camps in northeast Syria in order to pressure it to act.

In February, a group of 12 UN experts accused Australia of failing to prevent the “sheer obliteration of the rights” of its own citizens including children who are held in camps in northeast Syria.

The letter has only been published on the UN’s website at the weekend.

The letter touched on conditions the Roj and Hawl camps witnessed where thousands of individuals are held without any “judicial processes”.

The UN urges the Australian government to repatriate its citizens from Syria, saying it’s the only “legal and humane response” to the situation.

In response to the UN letter, Australia’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Amanda Gorely, wrote that his country was concerned about the situation in northeast Syria.

“Australia considers all circumstances when approaching the question of repatriations from Syria and responds on a case-by-case basis,” Gorely wrote in a letter released on Sunday.

“Australia does not accept that it exercises jurisdiction over detention facilities in northeast Syria,” the Ambassador wrote.

Acting CEO of Save the Children Australia Mat Tinkler said it was Australia’s responsibility to get these women and children home safely.

“This is clearly a responsibility of the Australian government… these are Australian citizens, these children are innocent.”

In 2019, the Australian government led by PM Scott Morrison refused to repatriate ISIS women from Syria citing security risks.

Defense Minister Linda Reynolds stated that the government “will not jeopardize the lives of any other Australians in order to repatriate Australian nationals.”

“Response of relevant countries of the ISIS’ children issue is pretty slow and never matches the amount of security and humanitarian risks,” head of the IDPs and Refugees’ Affairs Office of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) Sheikhmous Ahmed had earlier said.

The international community’s disregard of the children in the two camps [Hawl and Roj] is a very serious matter, he added.

Despite calls by the AANES for repatriating foreign family members of ISIS held in camps in northeast Syria, few countries acted positively while others are afraid to step towards solving this issue, which burdens the administration and poses a threat on the people of northeast Syria, for fear of their extremist ideology.   

Reporting by Saya Muhammad