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UK to repatriate British orphans of 'IS' fighters

November 21, 2019

The UK government has arranged for British orphans in Syria to be repatriated to the UK. The UK now joins Germany in repatriating children whose parents were suspected members of the "Islamic State."

A woman in Syria holds a baby
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/F. Dana

The British foreign secretary said on Thursday that the UK had arranged for British orphans in Syria to be repatriated to the UK.

The UK now joins Germany, Belgium and Australia in repatriating children whose parents were caught up in the Syrian conflict, including suspected members of the "Islamic State" (IS).

'Innocent children'

"These innocent, orphaned, children should never have been subjected to the horrors of war," UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said.

"We have facilitated their return home, because it was the right thing to do. Now they must be allowed privacy and given the support to return to a normal life," he added.

Raab did not specify how many children were returning and the British Foreign Office did not release further details. 

Read more: Germany: Don't panic over 'Islamic State' returnees' arrival

The Kurdish administration in northern Syria posted on social media updates about three children headed to the UK. "Three British orphans from ISIS parents were handed over to a delegation representing the British Foreign Ministry," said Abdulkarim Omar, the de facto Kurdish foreign affairs spokesman, on Twitter, referring to IS.

Figures from the charity Save the Children said in October that over 60 British children may be trapped in Syria.

Alison Griffin, of the charity group, welcomed the UK's decision. She said Raab's decision was "transforming the lives of these innocent children who have been through terrible things that are far beyond their control."

The question of how to deal with citizens of Western countries who went to the Middle East to join militant groups like IS has long plagued governments.

ed/stb (AFP, Reuters)

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