France repatriates 55 women and children from Syria camps
Paris, Oct 20: The French Foreign Ministry on Thursday said it had repatriated dozens of women and children from Kurdish-run camps in northeastern Syria.
The repatriation is the largest in recent months and comes a week after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that France must re-examine repatriation requests from two women detained in Syria.
What will happen to the returnees?
The ministry said it had repatriated 40 children and 15 women from Syrian camps holding family members suspected or belonging to the so-called"Islamic State" (IS) terror group.
"The minors have been transferred to child aid services," the ministry said in a statement. "The adults have been handed to judicial authorities."
"France expresses its thanks to local authorities," the ministry noted, "for their cooperation which has made this operation possible."
The repatriations come in addition to some 300 French minors who lived in the so-called Islamic State's areas of operation who previously returned to France, including 77 with government assistance.
What's France's stance on repatriation?
Paris has long refused to repatriate hundreds of French children held in the Kurdish-run camps. It has dealt with them on a case-by-case basis that human rights groups claim is deliberately drawn out.
Last week, the European Court of Human Rights condemned French authorities for refusing to allow two women to return after a request from their parents. The court asked officials to quickly reexamine the case.
The court did not issue a blanket ruling on the return of all French citizens held in Syria since the end of military operations against the terror group in 2019.
However, it did say that safety and healthcare conditions at the camps "must be considered incompatible with applicable standards under international humanitarian law."
Thousands of extremists from Europe and other parts of the West joined the group as fighters. They often took wives and children to live in the self-declared "caliphate" in territory conquered in Iraq and Syria.
France has prioritized its security over welfare concerns for detained individuals, highlighting a series of attacks by the jihadist group, including the November 2015 assaults on Paris that killed 130 people.