Accepting citizens back who are living in severe humanitarian conditions in northern Syria is the responsibility of member states, the Council of Europe (CoE) stated, urging the repatriation of families of fighters that fought in the Syrian civil war.
The CoE's commissioner for human rights, Dunja Mijatovic, said yesterday in a statement that the camp of Al-Hol in northern Syria hosts more than 73,000 people, including citizens of Council of Europe member states, who live in squalid and hazardous conditions according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
"Some 90% of those stranded in the camp with almost no access to healthcare are women and children, many of whom are not older than 6. In this context, I urge Council of Europe member states to take all the necessary measures to ensure repatriation as a matter of urgency of their underage nationals from the camp of Al-Hol," she said.
Western countries have been reluctant to bring their nationals home from the Syria since Daesh collapsed. Most of these nationals, comprising of families of Daesh terrorists who were killed during clashes, now live in appalling conditions in refugee camps. Also, the U.S.-led coalition is holding nearly 2,000 terrorists taken prisoner during clashes. U.S. President Donald Trump made a call in February, when he threatened to release the Daesh prisoners if European countries did not take their citizens back. "We have 1,800 ISIS [Daesh] prisoners taken hostage in our final battles to destroy 100% of the Caliphate in Syria. Decisions are now being made as to what to do with these dangerous prisoners," he said. However, many European countries remained indifferent to the issue.
Stressing that 120 deaths had been recorded as of March 14, 2019, 80% of them being children under the age of 5, Mijatovic said the total number of deaths doubled in a month, rising 249 as of April 11.
"Most fatalities were due to malnutrition, infected wounds, severe burns and acute diarrhea. One of the primary responsibility of Council of Europe member states is to take all feasible measures to ensure that children affected by armed conflict receive protection and care as provided for in the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocol I, as well as in the 2000 Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, to which all Council of Europe member states are party," the commissioner said.
Mijatovic added that Council of Europe member states should consider repatriating the mothers of these children as well, "in order to safeguard the best interests of the children, as required by the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, which does not prevent these states from bringing the mothers to justice where appropriate, in accordance with their legislation and international and European applicable standards."