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Campaign updates

  • We have engaged the government sharing our briefings with key government officials and requesting meetings with the Home Office and the Foreign Office. Following this, we secured a briefing with one of the relevant committees and continue to highlight the situation for British families.

  • There has been additional coverage of the issue of repatriation following a UN expert’s visit. The UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, carried out a six-day visit to Syria, with a focus on detention and repatriation issues in the north east. The Special Rapporteur appealed to all States whose nationals are detained in Northeast Syria to live up to their fundamental human rights obligations and repatriate their nationals. “The dire conditions of detention for all categories men, women and especially children, which I witnessed first-hand, make such returns absolutely imperative,” she said.

  • The UK must urgently end its policy of funding the illegal detention of children in north-east Syria, and disclose how many British minors are being held in camps run by Syrian Kurds on behalf of the west, the former cabinet minister David Davis has said in a letter to the current Home Secretary, James Cleverly. Davis said: “A change of policy is urgently needed. Condemning British families to indefinite detention without trial is inconsistent with British values and support for the rule of law. Repatriating British families is the only sensible choice for UK and global security”.

  • In September 2023, the Foreign Affairs Committee held evidence sessions exploring the UK’s international counter-terrorism policy. There were two panel sessions and the second specifically examining the UK’s policy concerning British nationals detained in the camps. Richard Barrett CMG OBE (former Director of Global Counter-Terrorism at MI6) Professor Harmonie Toros (Professor of International Relations at the University of Reading) and Paul Jordan (Head of Responding to Violent Extremism at the European Institute of Peace) were called on the give evidence.

  • We remain deeply concerned about the inhumane conditions in the camps where British families are being held as well as the conditions in detention facilities. March this year marked five years of indefinite and arbitrary detention for many British children held in these camps. They are in urgent need of specialised help to recover from their experiences and return to normality, which is impossible in overcrowded camps with little access to basic services.

  • The situation has been further compounded by the deterioration in humanitarian funding (limiting the provision of services) as well as recent escalations in violence which has led to significant damage to civilian infrastructure and forced a number of organisations to temporarily suspend their programming as a result. Instability in the region also increases the risk of these makeshift detention facilities collapsing or being attacked.

  • In May 2024, the United States repatriated 11 of its citizens from northeast Syria, including five minors, the largest single repatriation of U.S. citizens to date.

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