(Photo Credit : Delil Souleiman/AFP)
Canadian officials announced on 20 January that 23 citizens would be repatriated from camps in northeast Syria. The camps house family members of ISIS fighters and are administered by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The decision was made after the families challenged the Canadian government in court, arguing it was Ottawa’s duty under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Earlier Friday, Canada announced the repatriation of 19 citizens, six women, and 13 infants, but the courts decided that four men requesting repatriation had to be included.
“I have spoken to the parents, and they’re really, really happy,” said lawyer Barbara Jackman, who is representing one of the men, adding that it will happen “as soon as reasonably possible.”
Meanwhile, the foreign ministry released a statement saying, “the safety and security of Canadians is our government’s top priority.”
“We continue to evaluate the provision of extraordinary assistance on a case-by-case basis, including repatriation to Canada, in line with the policy framework adopted in 2021,” the statement said.
So far, the government of Justin Trudeau has treated the repatriation process on a case-to-case basis and only repatriated a handful of women and children.
Western countries have faced a dilemma over handling their citizens detained in Syria since the end of military operations against ISIS in 2019.
Earlier this month, two Spanish women married to ISIS members and 13 children were flown back to Madrid from detention camps in Syria, according to a report published by El Pais newspaper on 10 January.
Spain had agreed to send back three women in November, but the third woman, a teacher from one of Spain’s two enclaves in North Africa, Ceuta, could not be found, according to El Mundo.
On 1 November 2022, authorities in the Netherlands announced the repatriation of 28 children and 12 women from refugee camps in northern Syria, according to Al-Arabiya News.
“The cabinet is transferring twelve Dutch women suspected of terrorist offenses and their 28 children to the Netherlands,” two government ministers said.
“The women will be arrested after arrival in the Netherlands and will be tried,” Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra and Justice Minister Dilan Yesilgoz-Zegerius said in a letter to parliament.