France yesterday repatriated 15 women and 32 minors who were in jihadist prison camps in northern Syria. It was the third operation of this type in the last seven months and it occurred after the insistent pressure exerted on Paris by humanitarian NGOs and by various international bodies.
The returnees, relatives of Islamic State militants, came from Kurdish-administered Roj camp near the Iraqi and Turkish borders. The minors were cared for by child support services and will be subject to health monitoring and psychological and social care. Their mothers were placed before the courts to determine their criminal responsibilities, which is usual in these cases.
The French state was recently condemned by the UN Committee Against Torture for failing to repatriate all French citizens in prison camps in Syria. According to the committee, France has a duty to protect its nationals from serious human rights violations. Last year France was already condemned for this reason by the Committee on the Rights of the Child of the European Court of Human Rights.
According to what the psychiatrist Serge Hefez told France Info, these repatriated children “are not time bombs”, as they are sometimes presented, but “thirst to resume a normal life”. It is estimated that there are about one hundred French women and about fifty minors imprisoned in Syria. Bringing them is sometimes complex because some mothers do not want to return.