Eleven ISIS brides and their 20 children trapped in squalid Syrian refugee camp launch extraordinary bid to return to Australia
- Save the Children wants government to bring children home
- They say innocent children are living in squalid conditions
- Women are wives, widows and relatives of ISIS fighters
- Do you know more? Email email@example.com
Eleven women and 20 children living in a refugee camp in Syria after the fall of ISIL have launched an extraordinary bid to return to Australia.
Charity Save the Children on Tuesday took the Home Affairs Department to the Federal Court, demanding the repatriation of the Australian citizens and their children.
The 11 women are the wives and widows of Islamic State fighters – most of whom have either died or are serving prison sentences – have been living in the squalid detention camp known as Al Roj for the past four years.
One of the children is now an adult, while others have been born since their mothers were detained.
‘The situation of the remaining women and children is stark and dire… detained in hideous and appalling conditions,’ Save the Children’s barrister Peter Morrissey SC said.
‘Their health, safety and dignity are seriously compromised by any standard.’
Eleven women and 20 children living in a refugee camp in Syria after the fall of ISIL have today launched an extraordinary bid to return to Australia. Pictured, women and children at the al-Roj detention camp in northeast Syria
CEO Mat Tinkler (pictured arriving to court on Tuesday) visited Al Roj in 2022, and said ‘nothing could prepare [him] for seeing the impact of prolonged expose to these conditions’
Save the Children says the children living in the camp are in ‘grave danger’ and lack basic necessities including healthcare, nutrition and education.
CEO Mat Tinkler visited Al Roj in 2022, and said ‘nothing could prepare [him] for seeing the impact of prolonged expose to these conditions’.
He said children were suffering from untreated shrapnel wounds and prolonged illnesses.
‘They have already suffered immensely – many have experienced violence, bombardment and lost loved ones,’ he said. Other children are suffering dental decay, stunted growth, and a series of health complications.
The women have been living in the camp in North East Syria since ISIS was defeated in March 2019.
They travelled to Syria from Australia at the height of the caliphate, and many say they were coerced, tricked or forced into leaving their homes.
But some of the children were born in the camp and have never known life outside of its confines. Armed guards line the exits and patrol the dirt streets.
These women are the wives and widows of Islamic State fighters – most of whom have either died or are serving prison sentences – and they are now living in appalling conditions inside the squalid detention camp (ISIS fighters pictured)
There are reports that most of the Australian cohort live in an area dubbed ‘Australia Row’, and that many other citizens of western countries have since been repatriated.
France, Denmark, Canada, Norway, Russia, Spain and the United States are among some of the countries who repatriated citizens in 2023.
In October 2022, the Federal Government repatriated four women and 13 children. Eight children were also returned to Australia in 2019.
Save the Children is now arguing that the women and children still in Al Roj should be afforded the same treatment. The lawsuit is also based on an argument that the group’s detention is unlawful.
The women have been living in the camp in North East Syria since ISIS was defeated in March 2019 (pictured, al-Hol refugee camp Syria 2019)
‘Despite countless opportunities to repatriate these families, the Australian government has ultimately failed in its duty to bring all of its citizens home to safety,’ Mr Tinkler said.
‘The government cannot allow these innocent children to suffer further – they must do what is legally and morally right, before it’s too late.’
Save the Children argues previous repatriation efforts proves the Australian government is capable of successfully withdrawing families from these camps.
The camp is also home to Britain’s most famous ISIS bride, Shamima Begum, who has been locked in court battles with the UK government to repatriate her after they cancelled her citizenship.