UN experts urge 57 countries to take back their nationals from camps in Syria

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Leading the appeal, Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism, said that many western Europeans countries could do more to bring them home, according to the UN News Center.

More than 80 percent of those being held at the Al-Hol camp – the largest camp for refugees and internally displaced people in Syria - are women and children, according to a statement released by Ms. Ní Aoláin and more than 20 other UN rights experts, who are appointed by Member States.

The situation is equally distressing in Roj camp, also in northeast Syria.

The statement notes that thousands of people held in the camps are exposed to violence, exploitation, abuse and deprivation in conditions and treatment that may well amount to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment under international law, with no effective remedy at their disposal.

An unknown number have reportedly already died because of their conditions of detention

Although some countries had managed to bring back their nationals, others had not, despite having “just a handful” of detainees in Syria, Ms. Ní Aoláin said.

She dismissed claims that cooperation was not possible with non-State armed groups – such as the Syrian Defense Forces (SDF) – to secure their release, along with suggestions that wealthy western countries lacked the resources to rehabilitate and reintegrate all those still being held in Syria.

Independent UN Special Rapporteurs are appointed by the Human Rights Council. They are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

Meanwhile, Tajikistan is reportedly preparing to bring home hundreds of its citizens from refugee camps in Kurdish-controlled parts of Syria -- mostly Tajik wives and children of slain or imprisoned IIS militants.

Tajikistan's Ambassador to Kuwait, Zubaidullo Zubaidzoda, visited the Al-Hol and Al-Roj camps in northeastern Syria on December 8 and 9, meeting with hundreds of Tajik women and their children.

"We registered the names of some 200 Tajik nationals willing to return home in the voluntary repatriation program," Zubaidzoda told Radio Liberty from Syria on December 9.

But Zubaidzoda said some of the Tajik women in the camps declined to meet with his entourage, saying they didn't want to return to Tajikistan.

Zubaidzoda reportedly also met with Syrian government officials and representatives of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to discuss Dushanbe's repatriation plans.

The Tajik government has said it is determined to bring back home all Tajik women and children who are being held at prisons and refugee camps in Syria and Iraq.

Some 2,000 people from Tajikistan have left the country since 2014 to join IS militants in Syria and Iraq.

As part of a larger program since 2019, Tajikistan has repatriated dozens of children from Iraq, where their Tajik mothers were jailed for being members of the extremist group. But that effort was suspended in 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic led to border closures and halted international travel.

Source: Asia plus