Australia open to return of Daesh fighter’s orphaned children

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his government the Red Cross so the orphaned children could leave Syria. (File/AFP)
Updated 05 April 2019
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Australia open to return of Daesh fighter’s orphaned children

  • The fate of foreign fighters and their families has become a significant problem for governments
  • Foreigners at the Daesh camp are from some 30 to 40 countries

CANBERRA: Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Friday he was open to allowing the return of orphaned children of an Australian extremist in a Syrian refugee camp following their desperate plea for help.
Morrison said his government was working with the Red Cross so the children could leave the Al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria and Australian officials could assess them.
“Where they might be in a position to return to Australia, we will cooperate with that process,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra.
“Where there are Australians who are caught up in this situation, particularly as innocent children, we will do what I think Australians would expect us to do on their behalf.”
The PM added that he would not put “any Australian life at risk to extract people from these conflict zones,” a stance he has taken in recent weeks despite pleas from their grandmother Karen Nettleton.
Morrison’s comments came as Hoda Sharrouf — the 16-year-old daughter of Australian Daesh fighter Khaled Sharrouf — said she was worried about her siblings’ health, including 17-year-old sister Zaynab who is seven months pregnant and “very sick.”
“What about the children? What about the people that didn’t want to come here? What about the people that are stuck here and never wanted to be here in the first place? They don’t deserve this kind of treatment,” she told The Sydney Morning Herald from the camp.
“We’re Australians too. Australia needs to do something about it. They need to step up,” she said in an interview published Friday.
The Sydney Morning Herald said there were five children in the family seeking help — Hoda, Zaynab, their eight-year-old brother Hamzeh, and Zaynab’s two young children — Ayesha, 3, and Fatima, 2.
Sharrouf — the first Australian to have his citizenship stripped under anti-terrorism laws — left the country for Syria in 2013 with his wife Tara Nettleton, two daughters and three sons.
He made international headlines in 2014 when he posted an image on Twitter of another son holding a severed head.
He is believed to have died in a 2017 American air strike alongside his then pre-teen sons, while Nettleton reportedly died in 2015.
The fate of foreign fighters and their families has become a significant problem for governments as the conflict against Daesh draws to a close. Foreigners at the camp are from some 30 to 40 countries.
The Red Cross said Wednesday it wanted hundreds of children of foreign fighters living in the camp to be allowed to return home.
France last month took in five orphans and is dealing with returns on a case-by-case basis.


More than 60 dead in South Africa flooding after heavy rains

Updated 2 min 41 sec ago
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More than 60 dead in South Africa flooding after heavy rains

  • Rescue workers were digging through collapsed buildings on Wednesday
  • The rains mainly hit areas around the port city of Durban

DURBAN: At least 60 people have been killed and more than 1,000 have fled their homes after heavy rains caused flooding and mudslides along South Africa’s eastern coast, authorities said on Wednesday.
Most of the deaths were in KwaZulu-Natal province. Flooding also killed at least three people in neighboring Eastern Cape province, state broadcaster SABC said.
The rains mainly hit areas around the port city of Durban. Multiple dwellings collapsed in mudslides, said Robert McKenzie, a KwaZulu-Natal Emergency Medical Services spokesman.
Rescue workers were digging through collapsed buildings on Wednesday.
Victor da Silva, a resident of the coastal town of Amanzimtoti, said his family managed to evacuate before the floods destroyed their home and cars.
“On Monday, the water was just crazy. And yesterday morning I got here, everything was fine, my garage was still here, the other part of the house was still here, and it just couldn’t stop raining,” Da Silva said. “And then an hour and a half later, everything poof (vanished) because the rain just hasn’t stopped.
Authorities in southern Tanzania ordered evacuations of residents from low-lying areas and the closure of schools and offices ahead of landfall of Tropical Cyclone Kenneth on neighboring Mozambique’s coast on Thursday.
“We’ve decided to evacuate all residents of valleys and other low-lying areas and we advise them to seek refuge at public spaces,” Mtwara regional commissioner Gelasius Byakanwa, told reporters.
Johan Fourie said he fled his home in Amanzimtoti, Kwazulu-Natal, just before part of it collapsed.
“I nearly lost my life, and my neighbor, I believe, is in hospital,” Fourie told eNCA television.
The region had been hit by heavy rains for days, but authorities did not foresee the extent of the downpour late on Monday, said Lennox Mabaso, a spokesman for the provincial Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs department.
“As a result, there was flooding and some structures were undermined and collapsed on people,” Mabaso said.
Some people were swept away by the water, he added.
President Cyril Ramaphosa visited affected communities in KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday and was expected in the Eastern Cape in the next few days.
“This is partly what climate change is about, that it just hits when we least expect it,” he said.
Last week, 13 people were killed during an Easter service in KwaZulu-Natal when a church wall collapsed after days of heavy rains and strong winds.