GENEVA – UN investigators called on thousands of children of jihadists to fight for the repatriation of the Islamic State group from Syria on Thursday.
The United States’ Commission of Inquiry for Syria said in a report that the children were in a “particularly precarious” situation because they often lacked official papers.
“This in turn jeopardizes their citizenship rights, hinders the family reunification process and increases the risk of exploitation and abuse,” the report said.
According to the United States, around 28,000 children of foreign fighters live in Syrian camps – 20,000 of them from Iraq.
Thousands more are believed to be held in prisons where teenage children are locked up with adults.
Commission chairman Paulo Pinheiro said that the detention of children with adults was “a terrible violation” and called on the governments concerned to take measures to stop it.
“All this delay in not getting these children out of these prisons is outrageous. It’s a scandal, “he said.
After the collapse of IS ‘self-proclaimed caliphate last year, foreign fighters from almost 50 countries were arrested in Syria and Iraq.
Many of their relatives are being held in the crowded Al-Hol camp in northeast Syria, which is home to around 68,000 people and where more than 500 people – mostly children – died in 2019.
The U.N. commission urged governments to recognize papers from non-governmental actors such as the IS group and to testify so that children can receive official documents.
UNHCR Human Rights Commissioner Marie-Dominique Parent informed the European Parliament in November that about 700 to 750 children with European connections are being held in camps in northeastern Syria, 300 of whom are considered French.
For humanitarian reasons, some countries have started to repatriate children, with or without their parents.
However, US investigators criticized the practice of revoking the citizenship of suspected IS fighters deployed by countries such as the UK, Denmark and France.
The report said the practice “negatively impacted children, including their ability to exercise basic human rights”.
“States have clearly defined obligations to protect children, including stateless people. Failure to adhere to such basic principles would be a clear exception to the obligation, ”said Commissioner Hanny Megally.
The report also criticized some countries’ plans to bring children back without their mothers, saying that this could “go against the principle of” child welfare. “
The United States has set up its investigative commission for Syria to investigate human rights violations shortly after the conflict broke out in 2011.
In her Thursday report, she also accused the Syrian government of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, and torture.
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