Canada repatriates 10 children from Syrian camps as thousands of other foreign nationals remain in limbo
AMMAN, 6 April 2023 –Canada repatriated 10 children and four women from Roj camp in North East Syria this week as Save the Children reiterated calls for other countries to urgently follow suit with children housed there exposed daily to risks of violence, abuse and even death.
The total number of Canadians repatriated from North East Syria now stands at 21, including 14 children and seven women. This is the fourth repatriation by Canada since the collapse of the Islamic State (ISIS) and the fall of Baghouz in March 2019, which led to tens of thousands of women and children arriving at Al Hol and Roj camps, including thousands of foreign nationals.
Four years on, children in the camps continue to face daily risks with reports of children murdered, dying in tent fires, drowning, and being hit by passing vehicles. They also lack of access to the most basic needs such as medical treatment, much needed counselling and psychosocial support, clean water, food, shelter, and education.
Including Canada, nine countries have now repatriated some of their nationals this year with the list comprising Barbados, France, Kyrgyzstan, Norway, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, and Sudan. Iraq has also carried out two returns this year, with a combined 1,167 people.
The total number of children and women repatriated this year is now 197, which is an increase of 167% compared to the same period last year. The number of foreign nationals repatriated from the camps in 2022 increased to 517 from 324 in 2021, 281 in 2020 and 342 in 2019[i].
While Save the Children welcomes the increased efforts of some countries to repatriate their nationals, the child rights agency urges the countries of origin to do everything they can to repatriate the more than 10,000 foreign children and women who remain in the area.
Rasha Muhrez, Save the Children Syria Response Director, said:
“Canada has done the right thing by repatriating these children and bringing their perilous stay in the camps to an end. These children and their mothers can now look forward to rebuilding their lives at home, in Canada, where they belong and can finally start receiving the specialized support they need and deserve.
“With the number of repatriations increasing year-on-year, it’s clear that some countries are stepping up their efforts, which we welcome, but with thousands of foreign children and women still in the camps, it’s clear there’s still a long way to go. All children must be repatriated with their families. The need for urgent action cannot be overstated, given the deteriorating humanitarian and security situation, and the uncertainty and fear that the children in the camps live with every day.”
NOTES TO EDITORS:
Save the Children provides protection and support services in Al Hol and Roj camps, including child-friendly spaces. This includes recreational activities, such as sport, music, art, and storytelling, combined with psychosocial support. Save the Children also provides specialised case management support for children with particular needs as well as nutrition and education services. As well as the safe and dignified return of children and their families to their places of origin, Save the Children is calling for expanded humanitarian response in the camps to meet the needs of all foreign children while they await repatriation or return, including Iraqi children, as well as for Syrian children who remain in the camps.
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Emily Wight, Emily.Wight@savethechildren.org
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