2,500 foreign children in camps | The Daily Star
12:17 AM, February 22, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:20 AM, February 22, 2019


2,500 foreign children in camps

Says Save the children; SDF hands back to Iraq 130 jihadists

More than 2,500 foreign children from 30 countries who have fled the Islamic State group's last redoubts are living in desperate conditions in camps in northeastern Syria, Save the Children said Thursday.

The charity urged their countries of origin to "take action to ensure the safety of their citizens" as US-backed forces battle IS in the final sliver of territory it holds near the Iraqi border.

"They need specialised help to recover from their experiences and return to normality, together with their families," the charity said.

"This is impossible in overwhelmed displacement camps in a volatile warzone. The international community must act now before it is too late."

It said the children, including 38 unaccompanied minors, were from families "with perceived or actual associations" with the Islamic State (IS) group.

They were separated from others in the camps, affecting their access to aid and services.

"Harsh winter conditions have left the camps in a desperate state, with children facing life-threatening risks," it said.

The children are "victims of the conflict and must be treated as such", said Sonia Khush, Save the Children's Syria response director. "All states whose nationals are trapped in Syria must take responsibility for their citizens."

Meanwhile, US-backed Syrian forces yesterday handed over to Iraq 130 Iraqi members of the Islamic State group who were detained in Syria. A spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), however, denied the claim.

The Iraqi reports come as SDF forces, backed by coalition air strikes, have trapped IS jihadists in less that half a square kilometre (a fifth of a square mile) in the village of Baghouz, their last redoubt in eastern Syria.

A final offensive to oust diehard jihadists from Baghouz has stalled as SDF forces try to negotiate the release of hundreds of civilians -- mostly wives and children of IS fighters -- who are still inside the village.

On Wednesday, hundreds of people, including women and children, were trucked out of Baghouz.

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