London – Britain must immediately begin the safe evacuation of British children from Syria, where they are stranded in squalid camps, at risk of disease, death and kidnap.
We welcome the recent decision by the government to repatriate British children stranded in Syria, however the delay in taking concrete steps to do so has put the lives of innocent children at risk..
Most of these children have seen death and destruction first-hand, while other children bear not only mental scars, but have also suffered horrific wounds.
We also call for the government to be part of efforts to evacuate all children to their families in their home nations. Other governments, including many in Europe, have done this.
Governments should approach this issue with urgency and sensitivity in order that the repatriation process is as safe as possible, and there is no re-traumatising of the children.
We believe the following steps are essential in achieving this aim:
1- In cases where children are orphaned, their extended families must be consulted during the process of bringing them home and in deciding with whom the children should live.
2- If extended families do not exist, then the children must be brought up in a familiar religious and cultural environment.
3- Despite suffering great losses at the hands of Islamic State (IS), Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) did not separate children from mothers. Children should not be re-traumatised through forceful removal from their families.
4- Mothers must be repatriated alongside their children. German courts have set a precedent of calling for the repatriation of children with their mothers.
5- Upon their return, children should be provided with sensitive and meaningful psychological support.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/VOA
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