LONDON: The UK government is facing increased pressure to repatriate a young boy and his gravely ill mother from a Syrian detention camp as fears mount that she may die, leaving the child orphaned.
An explosion in 2019 inside the camp, where the pair have been held for several years, left the mother with shrapnel in her head, but despite multiple requests to repatriate the family the mother and son remain incarcerated in Syria — a decision described by Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell as “hard to fathom.”
Mitchell told The Guardian: “Ministers are asking us to believe that this British woman who can barely walk is such a threat that she cannot be brought home for life-saving treatment.
“The government’s position is surely hard to fathom. Has the UK really become so fearful and so cruel? I urge the government not to risk making an orphan of a young British boy and bring this family home.”
According to the paper, the condition of the mother, whose name has been withheld, has worsened recently, with doctors warning she is unlikely to survive without medical intervention.
The co-executive director of the legal charity Reprieve, Maya Foa, who has visited the pair, said their tent was recently set alight, with the young boy forced to drag his mother from the fire and that he now refused to play with other children as he feared he may not be there to save her should another fire be lit.
The Foreign Office said that it was reviewing the case as a “matter of priority,” but played up security concerns.
It added: “There may be British children in camps in Syria who are innocent victims of the conflict. Where we become aware of unaccompanied or orphaned British children in Syria, we will work to facilitate their return, subject to national security considerations.”
However, Labour MP Apsana Begum condemned this as a policy of “separating children from mothers,” putting them in a situation “that no parent should ever have to face.”
She told The Guardian: “The fact that the government would adopt this brutish approach to tear British families apart shows everything that’s wrong with its counter-productive and unbearably callous policy towards British nationals in north-east Syria.”