Uncle lodges complaint against France over stranded infants in Syria

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The uncle of two infants who are stranded with their mother in a Syrian camp has lodged a formal complaint against France for its refusal to repatriate them, he said Thursday.

Amine Elbahi, from Roubaix in northern France, says his nephews are suffering “a cruel lack of care and food” in a camp “whose insalubrity poses a risk to their health and security,” according to his complaint lodged with the European Commission’s secretariat on Wednesday.

Elbahi adds that France “is refusing to repatriate them” despite their being “in danger,” according to the text of his complaint seen by AFP.

Maintaining that France is in breach of international conventions on children’s human rights, Elbahi called on Brussels to take action to ensure the children were brought home “as soon as possible.”.

More than 200 children born to French parents who went to areas formerly ruled by ISIS extremist group are currently in Syria or Iraq.

More than half of them are with their mothers held in three Kurdish camps.

Paris is refusing to repatriate adults from the region, and almost all the parents concerned are unwilling to allow their children to leave for France without them. Many of the children are infants and around three-quarters are younger than six.

To date, France has repatriated 15 orphans and two children whose mother agreed to allow them to travel without her.

Earlier Thursday, Belgium agreed to bring home six orphans from Kurdish-controlled camps in Syria after the deaths of their extremist parents.

Elbahis’s sister is being held with her children in the Kurdish camp of al-Hol along with some 70,000 others - displaced people as well as prisoners.

France gave her a 30-year jail term in absentia for belonging to an extremist group after her arrest by Kurdish forces early this year.

Last month, Doctors Without Borders found conditions in the camp were “critical.”

In April, the World Health Organization logged 286 deaths in the camp since the start of the year - most of the fatalities children succumbing to dehydration and serious bouts of diarrhoea.

Families and lawyers have spent the past two years attempting to persuade France to repatriate its nationals from the region but Paris has refused a slew of cases. Others have been brought before the United Nations and the European Court of Human Rights.

Several European states are reluctant to accept captured extremist fighters, but the cases of children and non-combatant wives have proved more complicated for Western authorities.

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