France - Syria

French jihadists' children flown home from Syria

Convoy transporting orphans of French jihadists from airport near Paris, June 2019.
Convoy transporting orphans of French jihadists from airport near Paris, June 2019. © AFP

The French government says that ten children of French jihadist fighters have been flown to France from a refugee camp in Syria.


A statement from the ministry suggested all the children concerned were orphans or “humanitarian cases”, from camps in northeast Syria.

The foreign ministry said the children had been placed in the care of social services and were receiving medical care.

Details of their parents have not been released. The children were either taken to Syria by their parents or born out there.

Since the collapse of the Islamic State group in March 2019, 28 children have been flown to France but an estimated 300 French children remain in Kurdish-run Syrian refugee camps with their parents.

France insists the parents must face the local justice system for their role in trying to establish a caliphate and children who are not orphans cannot be sent to France without the mother's consent.

The group "Collectif des familles unies" is disappointed that more children have not been returned to their home countries and maintains the reason is that foreign, especially western governments do not make much serious effort to collect such children.

In all, some four thousand foreign women and eight thousand children are held in three camps for displaced people in north east Syria.

UN investigators called in January for more children to be repatriated, especially those deemed to be in a “particularly precarious situation”.

517 people including 371 children died in the Al-Hol camp in 2019, an official from the Kurdish Red Crescent group in the camp said in mid-January.

Kurdish authorities have frequently also called on countries to take back their adult citizens, explaining that they cannot guard them in camps indefinitely.  It is thought some have already escaped.





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