The two American women and children were in the Al-Hol IDP camp in northeastern Syria, where thousands of foreign jihadist-affiliated detainees are held, a spokesman for Kamal Akef told AFP. of the semi-autonomous Kurdish administration.
Two American women and six children from families linked to the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria were handed over Wednesday in the United States by Kurdish local authorities who urge reluctant Western countries to repatriate thousands of their nationals.
Since the proclamation in March of the victory over the ISIS “caliphate” in Syria, the Kurdish authorities supported by Washington face daunting challenges, including the alarming situation in the overpopulated refugee camps.
These camps in northeastern Syria are home to 12,000 foreigners – 4,000 women and 8,000 children of jihadists kept under close surveillance. Washington has on several occasions lambasted the reluctance of European countries to repatriate their nationals.
“At the request of the US government (…) two American women and six children were repatriated to the United States,” said Akef Wednesday in a statement that does not reveal the identity of those concerned.
In Washington, the US State Department also refused to provide details about these people, but confirmed that they were taken care of in “security”.
The initiative comes just two days after the repatriation of five Norwegian orphans from IS-related families, and one week after the departure of around 150 Uzbek women and children.
In addition, several hundred Syrian women and children have been allowed to leave the Al-Hol camp, where nearly 74,000 people are crammed according to the UN, following a request by tribal leaders and local figures.
- – Cooperation –
In the past, at least two Americans, one man and one woman – four children – accused of collaborating with ISIS in Syria were repatriated to the United States for trial, Washington announced in July 2018. .
But faced with the case of Hoda Muthana, a young woman who wants to return to the United States after joining the IS, US authorities have assured that she did not have the nationality, even if she was born on the territory.
A legal proceeding was started by his relatives to prove the opposite and get his return.
After conquering the ultimate fief of jihadists in eastern Syria, after an offensive supported by an international coalition led by Washington, Kurdish and Arab combatants of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) proclaimed March 23 the defeat of the “caliphate” of the IS.
For several months now, the Kurdish authorities have repeatedly demanded the repatriation of women and children from foreign countries, and they are actively working on this issue.
Russia, Kazakhstan and Kosovo are very cooperative.
But to date, France has repatriated a handful of orphans and a girl of three years. According to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, about 450 French nationals affiliated to the IS are in prison or held in refugee camps.
- – “Hard situation” –
The Kurdish authorities have repeatedly warned of the humanitarian situation in Al-Hol camp, demanding more help. NGOs have also denounced extreme conditions, including acute malnutrition among children and lack of medical care.
Throughout the assault on the ultimate IS retreat in eastern Syria, Al-Hol sent women and children of foreign jihadists, but also Syrians and Iraqis evacuated. Result: in a few months, the camp was saturated.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), women and children make up 91 percent of the displaced in Al-Hol, while 65 percent of the camp’s population is under the age of 12.
Demonstrations took place in early May led by women demanding better services and information on the fate of their husbands detainees, says the UN agency.
“The situation in the camp is very difficult,” warned on Monday Cheikhmous Ahmed, an official of the Kurdish administration, denouncing the inaction “of international organizations that do not assume their responsibilities towards the displaced”.
Initially, the Kurdish authorities demanded the return of foreign jihadists to their countries of origin. But in the face of Western procrastination, they now want an international tribunal to try the jihadists in Syria.
Triggered in 2011 by the repression of demonstrations, the conflict in Syria became complex with the involvement of several regional and international actors, in addition to the jihadist groups, has caused more than 370,000 deaths and pushed to the flight of millions of people.