France repatriates 35 women and children from Syrian camps

PARIS: France has repatriated 35 of its citizens, including 10 women and 25 children, from camps in northeastern Syria.

These camps are known to house thousands of individuals linked to Islamic State extremists. This marks the fourth such repatriation by France, following the fall of the Islamic State’s ‘caliphate’ in Syria in 2019.

The French foreign ministry announced that the adults would be handed over to the relevant judicial authorities, while the children would be taken in by social services for medical treatment. The repatriation was facilitated with the assistance of the local administration in northeastern Syria.

The repatriated individuals were previously held in the Al-Hol camp, which currently houses around 51,000 people, including many widows, wives, and children of Islamic State fighters. The camp is known for its harsh conditions, which have raised concerns about the potential radicalisation of its residents.

The French citizens repatriated formed part of the largest European contingent of people who joined the Islamic State at the height of the extremist group’s reach. France has been particularly cautious about repatriating its citizens due to concerns about potential security threats.

This latest repatriation follows a previous one in July 2022, when France repatriated 51 citizens, including 16 mothers and 35 children, from the same camps in Syria, according to France24.

The French government has been urged by human rights groups and the United Nations to increase its efforts to repatriate its nationals from these camps.

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