France repatriates 12 vulnerable children from Syria

Syria – Repatriation of orphaned and unaccompanied minors – Communiqué issued by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs

Paris, 10 June 2019

France has today organized the return of 12 French orphaned or unaccompanied minors who were in camps in north-east Syria.

These children were handed over to the French judicial authorities and are now receiving special medical care and support from social services.

France thanks the local leaders in north-east Syria for their cooperation, which made this outcome possible.

The decision was taken in view of the situation of these particularly vulnerable young children.

Moreover, in contact with the Dutch authorities, two orphaned Dutch infants have also received support and on their arrival were entrusted to their Dutch guardian./.

Syria – Return of French minors – Reply by M. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to a question in the National Assembly

Paris, 11 June 2019

France’s position is known; I maintain it. We’ve said clearly that Daesh [so-called ISIL] fighters and militants must be tried where they committed their crimes. It’s a security issue and it’s a justice issue, both simultaneously. And France’s position has also been to ensure that orphaned or unaccompanied minors can be repatriated to France if they have French nationality. And we’re worried about them. So France’s position on this too is simple: namely, that we try to repatriate unaccompanied, orphaned minors, and on a case-by-case basis children in very special circumstances.

These are extremely dangerous procedures. And while we managed to repatriate 12 orphaned or unaccompanied children last weekend, it was at the cost of a very complex operation for which I want to pay tribute to all the services that contributed to it, and also the local authorities in Rojava which enabled the return. Those children are placed under judicial authority and are now receiving medical and social support.

We’d already conducted an initial operation for five children previously; this time we’re talking about 12. But we’ve also repatriated two Dutch children under the same circumstances, in liaison with the Dutch authorities. If other opportunities were to arise, we’d try to bring them to a successful conclusion, while specifying that the situation is difficult because the country is still at war, because work is necessary to identify and locate them, which isn’t simple, and above all because France has no effective control over either those camps or those people, it has to be said./.

Published on 04/02/2020

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