“Get us out of here,” reads the message Marc and his buddy have received from their grandchildren imprisoned in camps in Syria. For more than 3 years, nearly 200 French children and their mothers have survived in the Roj and Al-Hol camps in Kurdish northeastern Syria. “Their only crime is to be born to parents who traveled to jihad”declares Hubert Julien-Laferrière, ecologist deputy in the Rhône.
The United Families collective, which brings together more than 100 families whose children have been detained in the camps, is launching a repatriation appeal backed by 175 French elected officials and backed by a platform signed by 75 personalities.
“Make invisible” children
It’s a shocking testimony given by Marc, a distressed grandfather and member of the United Families collective, to raise awareness. “Our four grandchildren have been locked up inside a camp in Syria for 1501 days, we have not been able to repatriate them”, he introduces.
All the French families have been gathered in the Roj camp since the conquest of Baghouz. Marc’s 4 grandchildren arrived at the camp in 2018, the oldest was 8 years old, the second under 4 years old, the 3rd less than 2 years old and finally the last one, was born on the spot under uncertain conditions. “They were, so to speak, lucky, they did not spend months in a dungeon before being transferred to the camps when their parents went to Baghouz. They did not experience the powerful shelling, the death before their eyes by their little brothers and sisters. They did not stay. physically wounded like others who carry Baghouz’s wounds in their flesh. “
“We wrote to the President of the Republic, the answer was clear: France will not intervene because it has no relations with the country.” Except that, according to him, France was present in Syria and had links to the Kurdish and Kamichi authorities. “They live in tents, have no school, are poorly cared for, apparently have no psychological support and live in insecurity every day with Daesh’s rapid return”he explains. “The only thing that is evolving is that the children are growing up. We are seeing our grandchildren grow up and survive in these camps”, he continues.
“Absolutely nothing has changed in the attitude of the French government. This shows total disregard for the lives of these children and for France’s international obligations. We are facing a wall of state.”condemns Marc. “The love for these children and our grandchildren carries us. Our struggle will not stop until they return. They want to make them invisible, but we will continue. Especially since we are now supported. It’s just children who are victims and innocent “adds the companion to Marc and Grandma, overwhelmed with emotion.
Of “political struggle” to “humanity” : “Who are we shouting at?”
A sponsorship system has been set up for French children in the camps. “Thanks to sponsorship, we want to show them that there is another France thinking about them and waiting for them. We live in a country where we have to remember what humanity is, what children are.”speaks, in tears, Sophia Aram, actress and columnist. “We must not keep our mouths shut, there must be many more of us. Let’s send them home, we can not be afraid of our children, they live in inhuman conditions. I want to shout at them, I do not even know to whom, for no one is making a decision. This is not a political struggle, but about humanity. We should all be ashamed of this situation. “says Sophia Aram.
“Who are we shouting at? The President of the Republic. I wrote to Quai d’Orsay, I was told that the decision would be made in the Elysée. Since then, I write every week about a woman, a child and I wait while they die”does not hesitate to point the finger at Marie Dosé, lawyer at the Paris Bar.
“France is one of the few countries that has not initiated a repatriation process that denies children the right to life, even in spite of security. Anti-terrorism specialists confirm it: leave these children in camps for years while Daesh returns in force is to let they grow in hatred for France “condemns Hubert Julien-Laferrière. “France and Spain remain inflexible, while Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Belgium have started repatriations and continue them. Our grandchildren do not understand why their friends from other countries return and not them. They wonder what they are doing there, why they pay more than the others “Marc adds before specifying: “The children present in the camps all arrived very young, were even born there, their memory of Syria is not Daesh.”
According to them, no repatriation should take place without the mothers so as not to destabilize the children, for whom they are the only emotional source they have known in recent years. They announce in the press release that all the children’s mothers are in court and want to face justice in order to return to France and protect their children.
The error in the 2018 repatriation plan: “France creates a nightmare for families”
“There was a repatriation plan in 2018. The plan was operational, I have it in my office, it provides everything, even the flight number that they had to return with. After information leaked, we postponed for security reasons. During this postponement, a poll “and two-thirds of the French were not in favor of repatriation. During this new postponement, the yellow vests and then the health crisis meant that the president could not risk a lack of popularity for re-election. Here’s how it went.”assures the lawyer.
According to her, France has tried to play the “case by case” card to repatriate orphans. “You saved yourself, you’re out of luck, your mother is alive, so you’re dying. That was the idea.” A moving image. “We offer martyrs on a platter to Daesh, we are so afraid that we prefer to give weapons to this ideology. We manufacture the worst”she adds before finishing “France is creating a nightmare for families.”
Since January 2021, France has not organized any repatriation.