UK government accused of complicity in torture of women and children in Syria

LONDON: The UK government has been accused by a human rights group of complicity in the torture and degrading treatment of women and children in Syrian prison camps.

Authorities in the UK and other countries are turning a blind eye to the cruel and inhumane conditions in two camps in northeastern Syria, according to Rights and Security International.

An estimated 15 to 20 women originally from the UK are among the 60,000 women and children who have been detained in the camps since the collapse of Daesh and their capture by Syrian-Kurdish fighters fighting alongside the US-led coalition.

“By refusing to bring these children and women back to the UK when it could do so, the British government is abandoning people, including its own citizens, to torture and death,” said Sarah St. Vincent, executive director of RSI.

“This refusal blatantly ignores fundamental human rights that the British government promotes on the international stage, and treats these Muslim women and children as less than human.”

The UK government argues that the women from Britain in the camps — including high-profile former Daesh bride Shamima Begum, who traveled to Syria in 2015 at the age of 15 to join Daesh — are a threat to national security and refuses to allow them to return. Some, including Begum, have been stripped of their British citizenship. The Home Office has intimated any who are allowed back into the country would probably face terrorism charges, the Guardian reported.

RSI said those detained in the camps live with “hunger, thirst, poor sanitation and inadequate shelter.”

It added: “In combination, the conditions and risks faced by these children and women in both Al-Hawl and Roj camps amount to torture.”

The charity Save the Children said two children have died every week this year in Al-Hawl camp.

Some countries have started to repatriate women and children from the camps. Last week eight women and 23 children were flown home to Germany as part of a joint operation with Danish authorities, who brought back three women and 14 children.