ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A United Nations official has called for a “concerted effort” from the international community to repatriate thousands of foreign children who are stuck at the Al Hol refugee camp in northern Syria.
“There is a prime responsibility of states vis-a-vis their own nationals,” Panos Moumtzis, the UN humanitarian coordinator for the Syria crisis, said at a news conference in Geneva.
“Really, nobody should be rendered stateless,” he added. “Children should be treated first and foremost as victims…irrespective of family affiliation.”
The children at the camp belong to members of the so-called Islamic State group or those accused of membership in the extremist group.
For months, the camp has been far over its capacity for residents and currently houses around 70,000 people, many of them women and children.
Al Hol witnessed an increase in numbers of residents as Syrian Kurdish-led forces, backed by the US-led coalition during the offensive to defeat the Islamic State in its last bastion of Baghouz.
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According to UN statistics, 260 people, including 211 children under the age of five, have died since December on route to the Kurdish-run camp in northern Syria’s Hasakah province.
The United States has called on countries to bring home thousands of Islamic State members which the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have captured in Syria.
So far, European states have been reluctant to bring back Islamic State fighters or women accused of membership in the extremist group and their children who are stuck in Syria.
Many EU countries fear that due to the lack of evidence, Islamic State supporters could be quickly released once they appear in court after returning home.