UN urges resolving fate of 2,500 foreign children at Syria camp

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A woman walks through Al-Hol displacement camp in Hasaka governorate, Syria. (File/Reuters)
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A dove rests on the shoulder of a boy at Al-Hol displacement camp in Hasaka governorate, Syria. (File/Reuters)
Updated 18 April 2019
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UN urges resolving fate of 2,500 foreign children at Syria camp

  • Panos Moumtzis, UN humanitarian coordinator for the Syria crisis, said home nations must take responsibility for repatriating their citizens, prosecuting where necessary
  • Britain revoked the citizenship of Shamima Begum who left at 15 to join Daesh in Syria

GENEVA: Around 2,500 foreign children are stuck in a guarded section of a Syrian camp after fleeing Daesh's last stronghold, a senior United Nations official said on Thursday, urging governments not to abandon them.
The children's plight at the Al-Hol camp in northeast Syria is a dilemma for nations who saw citizens leave and fight for the extremist movement in Syria and Iraq only to find themselves in limbo after the fall of their self-proclaimed "caliphate."
Panos Moumtzis, UN humanitarian coordinator for the Syria crisis, said home nations must take responsibility for repatriating their citizens, prosecuting where necessary.
"Really nobody should be rendered stateless and every effort should be made to find a solution for these people," he told a Geneva news briefing.
The children are among 10,000 non-Syrian and non-Iraqi nationals kept in a "restricted" section of the sprawling, Kurdish-run camp where 75,000 people live in total.
Some 211 children were among at least 260 people who died of malnutrition or disease en route to the camp since December, the latest UN figures show.
Britain revoked the citizenship of a teenager who left at 15 to join Daesh in Syria, while Austria and Switzerland have said they will not help bring home adults who joined the terrorist group.
But Moumtzis said states had a legal responsibility, especially for children, many of whom were born in Daesh camps. "Children should be treated first and foremost as victims" and "irrespective of family affiliation," he said.
The situation is further complicated because most states lack the capacity to offer consular services or access their nationals in the area. "There has to be a concerted effort, this is not about blaming or 'naming and shaming', but it's really about being practical and finding a way forward that would find a solution," the UN official said.


Oman trying to reduce US-Iran tensions: foreign ministry tweet

Updated 39 min 53 sec ago
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Oman trying to reduce US-Iran tensions: foreign ministry tweet

  • ‘There is a danger that a war breaks out, hurting the whole world’
  • Tensions between the US and Iran have been building in the last few weeks

DUBAI: Oman is trying “with other parties” to reduce tensions between the United States and Iran, the Omani Foreign Ministry tweeted on Friday.

The tweet cited Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, the sultanate’s minister responsible for foreign affairs, who met on Monday in Tehran with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

“There is a danger that a war breaks out, hurting the whole world ... Both parties, the American and the Iranian, are aware of the danger,” the tweet cited the Omani minister as saying in an interview with an Arabic publication.

Oman maintains friendly ties with both the United States and Iran and has previously been an important go-between for the two countries, which severed diplomatic relations in 1980. Washington and Tehran are in a protracted stand-off over Iran’s nuclear and missile programs.

Tensions have been building in the last few weeks. Washington has sent more military forces to the Middle East in a show of force against what US officials say are Iranian threats to its troops and interests in the region since the United States reinstated a range of economic sanctions against Iran.

President Hassan Rouhani said on Thursday that Iran will not surrender to US pressure and will not abandon its goals, even if it is bombed.

Another country trying to avert a confrontation in the region is Iraq. Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said on Tuesday that Baghdad would send delegations to Washington and Tehran to help reduce tensions.