End Unlawful Detention Press release

Comment: Germany and Finland repatriate citizens from North East Syria camps

Germany and Finland have joined a long list of countries who have opted to repatriate their nationals from camps in NES. The US has led the calls for this, noting there is an urgent imperative for governments to take back their citizens. Other countries that have done so already include: the US, Norway, Italy, Kosovo, Bosnia, Kazakhstan, Albania, Uzbekistan, Russia and Morocco.  

Reprieve Co-Executive Director Maya Foa, said: “The German and Finnish governments have done exactly what the U.K. should do. Repatriations are eminently possible and the right thing to do – from both a humanitarian and a security perspective. Yet the Johnson government continues to dither and delay. The small number of British people currently in the camps must be brought back and, where there are charges for the adults to answer, face British justice.

3 German women and 12 German children, and 2 Finnish women and 6 Finnish children were repatriated by their home governments.

The UK has so far refused to repatriate people from Britain. They have also withdrawn urgent humanitarian support from British families currently held in camps in North East Syria (NES), leaving at least one woman and one child under 5 at risk of death. As revealed by The Times, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) officials indicated to Reprieve in November that they would no longer take action on behalf of people from Britain facing death in the camps, despite having done so before. In at least two cases – including one of a child under 5 – FCDO officials refused to facilitate access to essential medical treatment or carry out checks on detainees’ whereabouts or wellbeing.

There are currently only a handful of British families held in the camps. Reprieve has been joined by senior British MPs in calling for the repatriation of British nationals – many of whom are highly vulnerable British women who were trafficked to Syria.