France repatriates 40 children, 15 mothers from Syria camps

Minors transferred to child welfare services, adults handed over to judicial authorities, says government.

France repatriates 40 children, 15 mothers from Syria camps

France repatriated 40 children and 15 mothers from camps in Syria, the government said on Thursday.

The minors have been transferred to “child welfare services and will be subject to medical-social monitoring” while “adults have been handed over to the judicial authorities,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

It is thus a new operation to repatriate French nationals who were in the camps of northeastern Syria, it said, commending the local authorities in northeastern Syria for their cooperation, which made the transfer possible.

It has been the first transfer by Paris since the condemnation of the government by the European Court of Human Rights on Sep. 14 over its reluctance on repatriations.

The court said the government should review “as soon as possible” all requests for the repatriation of French women and children detained in camps in northeastern Syria.

The latest transfer involving women comes months after the first group of 16 mothers and 35 children were repatriated on July 5.

Initially, France had only agreed to repatriate a handful of minors whose situation was assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Seventeen children, most of whom were orphaned, and a little girl suffering from heart disease, were repatriated in March and June 2019.

In June 2020, a dozen other French children were able to return to France to be taken care of.

In January 2021, seven “particularly vulnerable” minors were repatriated from a camp in northeastern Syria.

European countries face the challenge of how to handle their citizens detained in Syria for years since the end of military operations against terrorist groups in 2019.