UK Accused Of Abandoning Syrian Citizens

The British government has been accused of abandoning its citizens in Syria the all-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Trafficked Britons in Syria. Many women and children who fled to territories held by the terror group, Daesh, were “groomed, coerced or deceived into traveling to Syria” in “not isolated incidents; rather this was a systemic failure to combat Daesh trafficking operations”, states a new report of APPG.

Daesh in camps across northeastern Syria is run by the YPG, the Syrian wing of the PKK terror group.

According to the report, around 20 British families remain detained there since 2019 and at least 63% of British women currently detained are said to be victims of trafficking to or within Syria.

The UK remains one of the few countries that refuse to repatriate its nationals from detention camps in the count, its failure to rescue them can jeopardize both global and national security, the report concluded.

The consortium of British Members of Parliament and peers has worked for the past six months hearing testimony from former security officials and gathering evidence on Britain’s policy of refusing to repatriate British nationals from Syria. A number of human rights groups have contributed to the report, including Reprieve, Cage, Human Rights Watch, the Institute of Race Relations, Save the Children, and the Soufan Centre.

Christopher Harnisch, the former deputy Coordinator for Countering Violent Extremism at the US State Department, and Richard Barrett, the former director of Global Counter-terrorism Operations at MI6 have been among the figures in the report.

Barrett has condemned the government’s depriving and revoking of the citizenship belonging to some of those Britons stranded in Syria, saying that there is a failure to outline the real level of threat posed by the individuals. The restrictions on the Britons had been “imposed without a clear national security justification” in Barretts’ words.

The vice-chair of the all-party group, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, also condemned the government’s misuse of its powers to arbitrarily strip citizenship and refuse to repatriate British nationals, saying it is used “almost exclusively against Muslims and is now seeking to extend these Draconian powers, signaling to Britons from minority communities that their rights can easily be taken away”.

Lord Jay, former head of the UK’s Diplomatic Service, has written that “to put it bluntly, the government’s policy is to bury its head in the sand and hope the problem goes away.”

The UN Syria Commission of Inquiry, running from September 2020 to June 2021, said that at least 322 children and 56 women had been repatriated to 13 different home countries.

Last year, Human Rights Watch said an estimated 12,000 children and women who were not originally from Iraq or Syria now live in detention camps for family members of suspected IS militants.

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