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UK to repatriate first citizens from north-eastern Syria


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UK to repatriate first citizens from north-eastern Syria

Image copyright Reuters A number of orphaned British children caught up in the war in Syria are to be brought home to the UK, the foreign secretary has said.They will be the first UK citizens to be repatriated from the area of north-eastern Syria formerly controlled by the Islamic State (IS) group. The «innocent» children…

UK to repatriate first citizens from north-eastern Syria

Al-Hol displaced people camp in Syria (1 April 2019)Image copyright
Reuters

A number of orphaned British children caught up in the war in Syria are to be brought home to the UK, the foreign secretary has said.

They will be the first UK citizens to be repatriated from the area of north-eastern Syria formerly controlled by the Islamic State (IS) group.

The «innocent» children should «never have been subjected to the horrors of war», Dominic Raab said.

The group will be returned to the UK in the coming days.

For security reasons, further details of their repatriation cannot be given.

In a statement, Mr Raab said: «We have facilitated their return home, because it was the right thing to do.

«Now they must be allowed the privacy and given the support to return to a normal life.»

IS once controlled 88,000 sq km (34,000 sq miles) of territory stretching from western Syria to eastern Iraq.

The fate of foreign IS fighters and other foreigners caught up in the conflict has been a key issue since the defeat of the extremist group was declared in March 2019.

The UK had been reluctant to take back citizens from the area.

The United Nations has said countries should take responsibility for their own citizens unless they are to be prosecuted in Syria in accordance with international standards.

Human Rights Watch has described government-facilitated repatriations of foreign nationals as «piecemeal.»

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It says more than 1,200 foreign nationals have been repatriated from both Syria and Iraq to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Russia, Kosovo, and Turkey.

Alison Griffin, head of humanitarian campaigns at Save The Children, said the UK government «is transforming the lives of these innocent children who have been through terrible things that are far beyond their control».

She added: «They will now have the precious chance to recover, have happy childhoods and live full lives. We should be proud of everyone who has worked to make this happen.

«Every child saved is a triumph of compassion in the face of cruelty. We fervently hope this is just the start.»

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