A UNs monitoring organization said that France has violated the rights of children held in Syrian camps as “inhumane”.
A United Nations watchdog said Thursday that France has violated the rights of French children by leaving them for years in inhumane and life-threatening conditions in Syrian camps for family members of suspected jihadists.
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child ruled that “France has the responsibility and authority to protect French children in Syrian camps from imminent danger to their lives by taking action to repatriate them.”
In a statement, it stressed that “the prolonged detention of child victims in life-threatening conditions also amounts to inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.”
The committee, which includes 18 independent experts tasked with monitoring implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, released its findings after considering three cases involving 49 French children held in Kurdish-controlled camps in northeastern Syria.
Relatives of suspected jihadists, including children, are kept in a number of camps in the area, the largest of which is al-Hol camp, which houses some 56,000 displaced people and refugees.
Repeated calls by Western countries to return their citizens have fallen on largely deaf ears.
Committee member Ann Skelton warned that “children are living in inhumane sanitary conditions, lacking basic necessities including water, food and health care, and are at imminent risk of death.”
So the situation is very urgent.”
She noted that at least 62 children have died in the camps due to these conditions since the beginning of 2021.
‘War-like territory’ French cases are brought by a group of French subjects on behalf of their grandchildren, nieces and nephews – some as young as five years old – stuck in camps.
Some children were born in Syria, while others were brought there by their French parents at a very young age.
It is alleged that their parents collaborated with the Islamic State.
Since their relatives brought their cases to the commission in 2019, the French government has returned 11 of the children.
The commission said the remaining 38 – some as young as five years old – were still being held in “closed camps in a war-like area”.
Its statement said France “has not shown that it has given due consideration to the best interests of child victims when assessing their relatives’ requests for repatriation.”
The committee urged France to take urgent measures to return the remaining 38 child victims.
Meanwhile, Paris called for additional measures to be taken to mitigate the risks faced by the remaining children in northeastern Syria.
“We call on France to take immediate action, as with each passing day there is a renewed possibility of more casualties,” Skelton said.