Children returned from Syria Daesh camps ‘building new lives’: Human Rights Watch

Children returned from Syria Daesh camps ‘building new lives’: Human Rights Watch
Above, the Kurdish-run Al-Hol camp, which holds relatives of suspected Daesh group fighters in the northeastern Hasakeh governorate. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 21 November 2022

Children returned from Syria Daesh camps ‘building new lives’: Human Rights Watch

Children returned from Syria Daesh camps ‘building new lives’: Human Rights Watch
  • Success of reintegration should encourage West to boost repatriation efforts, group says
  • ‘In the camps they risk death, illness, recruitment by ISIS and indefinite detention for the suspected crimes of their parents’

LONDON: Children repatriated from camps for former Daesh families in northeast Syria are “building new lives” in their home countries, Human Rights Watch said in a report published on Monday.

It added that the success of repatriation efforts to countries including France, Germany, the UK and Sweden should encourage Western governments to accept greater numbers of child nationals from former Daesh territories.

The report, titled “‘My son is just another kid’: Experiences of children repatriated from camps for Daesh suspects and their families in northeast Syria,” documents the progress of 100 children repatriated between 2019 and 2022.

The 63-page report found that the majority of the children are performing well in school, taking part in a variety of hobbies, and have been given a “new chance in life” following the “horrors of the camps.”

A survey conducted for the report found that 89 percent of respondents — family members, foster parents, social workers and teachers — reported that a repatriated child was doing “very well” or “quite well” at adjusting.

On education, 73 percent said a child under their care was performing “very well” or “quite well” in school.

The report found evidence of significant emotional and behavioral trauma among some of the repatriated children, but argued that learning assistance and psychosocial support could further encourage reintegration.

About 56,000 people, mostly women and children, remain in Syria’s Al-Hol and Roj camps. Though most detainees hail from Syria and neighboring Iraq, more than 10,000 prisoners are from countries around the world, including major Western nations. HRW said almost 80 percent of children in the camps are aged under 12.

Regional Kurdish authorities that oversee the camps have warned that they lack the required resources to maintain long-term care of the detainees.

Conditions in the camps have significantly worsened in recent years, with frequent clashes between Daesh loyalists and other prisoners.

And as a result of poor living conditions, hundreds of children have died in the camps from a range of illnesses including hypothermia, malnutrition and preventable diseases.

Jo Becker, children’s rights advocacy director at HRW, said: “Children rescued from the horrors of the camps are doing well in school, making friends and building new lives in their home countries. Despite enduring unimaginable suffering, many are reintegrating remarkably well.

“The greatest risk is not bringing the children home but leaving them in the camps where they risk death, illness, recruitment by ISIS (Daesh) and indefinite detention for the suspected crimes of their parents.

“Countries with nationals in the camps should urgently allow them to return home and do their best to keep mothers and children together.”

A grandfather in Sweden whose several grandchildren were repatriated in 2019 said: “It is possible, fully possible, for reintegration and recovery of children. My grandchildren are evidence of this.

“They have recovered in the most incredible way … All children should have the opportunity to get a new chance in life.”

Since 2019, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Sweden, Tajikistan, the US and Uzbekistan have successfully repatriated most of their nationals from camps in Syria. However, the UK has repatriated just 10 children and Canada only four.

In October, Australia repatriated four women and 13 children in the country’s first effort to return nationals from Syria since 2019. On Oct. 31, the Netherlands repatriated 12 women and 28 children.


US, Europe security body seeks ‘end to Ukraine war, rights atrocities’

US, Europe security body seeks ‘end to Ukraine war, rights atrocities’
Updated 29 sec ago

US, Europe security body seeks ‘end to Ukraine war, rights atrocities’

US, Europe security body seeks ‘end to Ukraine war, rights atrocities’
  • Upcoming OSCE meet critical, says American envoy
  • Nuclear escalation a ‘real and imminent danger’

WASHINGTON: The upcoming meeting of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, or OSCE, will be critical to help end the war in Ukraine and the continuing human rights violations resulting from the conflict. 

This is the view of Michael Carpenter, the US’ permanent representative to the OSCE, who spoke to Arab News recently about the group’s annual ministerial council gathering in Lodz, Poland, from Dec. 1-2. 

Carpenter said OSCE officials are expected to discuss the expansion of the organization’s work to tackle issues including human trafficking and election monitoring. 

While strongly criticizing Russia for its role in the conflict, Carpenter said European nations have recently engaged with Moscow and Kyiv for a “de-escalation.” 

Carpenter’s comments come in the wake of US news outlets reporting in the last two weeks of a secret meeting between CIA Director Bill Burns and his Russian intelligence counterpart, Sergey Naryshkin, in Ankara, Turkey. The meeting was part of ongoing US efforts to “communicate with Russia on managing (the) risk” of possible nuclear escalation. 

A CIA spokesperson declined to provide comment to Arab News on the meeting, citing a lack of authorization to speak about the CIA director’s schedule. 

The OSCE has 57 participating states from Europe, Central Asia and North America and works to promote human rights and democratic governance through election monitoring and combating human trafficking. 

It functions as a forum for dialogue on global issues affecting member states and has 13 field missions in the Western Balkans, Central Asia and Moldova. A new office will soon be set up in Ukraine. 

Carpenter said that a new field mission called the Support Program for Ukraine was inaugurated on Nov. 1, funded by a “generous contribution” from the US and other voluntary support. 

“Through this new field presence, we intend to support projects that will contribute to enhancing the resilience of Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, humanitarian demining (and) the mitigation of the environmental impacts of the war,” he said. 

The US delegation would be led by Victoria Nuland, America’s under-secretary of state for political affairs — joining representatives from the 57 OSCE participating states and 11 partner states.  

Carpenter said the most important topic of the upcoming meeting was the war in Ukraine. “The real story of the OSCE is not what has been said but what has been done.” 

He said the OSCE states take decisions based on consensus. It has three autonomous institutions — the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the Representative on Freedom of the Media, and the High Commissioner on National Minorities.

“The OSCE has a number of special representatives who carry out work on extremely important issues like anti-corruption, countering trafficking in human beings, supporting gender equality, and promoting tolerance and non-discrimination,” he said. 

He said that in Tajikistan, for example, the OSCE supports women resource centers that provide the only government-sanctioned outlets for victims of domestic violence. They have access to legal aid, psychological support, and help with finding employment. 

“In the Western Balkans and Central Asia, our field missions support efforts to document and safeguard stockpiles of small arms and light weapons to enhance stability and security in many of these post-conflict societies.” 

Carpenter said that as a result of the war in Ukraine the OSCE put out information on the risks of human trafficking using an innovative public-private partnership that pushes the information to the smartphones of those most at risk. 


Pakistan Taliban claim suicide blast killing 3

Pakistan Taliban claim suicide blast killing 3
Updated 30 November 2022

Pakistan Taliban claim suicide blast killing 3

Pakistan Taliban claim suicide blast killing 3
  • Taliban earlier announced an end to a shaky cease-fire with Islamabad and ordered nationwide attacks

QUETTA, Pakistan: Three people were killed and 23 injured Wednesday when a suicide bomber targeted a police truck in western Pakistan, an official said, an attack claimed by the domestic chapter of the Taliban.
The Pakistan Taliban — known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) — are separate from the Taliban in Afghanistan but share a common hard-line Islamist ideology.
On Monday, the group announced an end to a shaky cease-fire with Islamabad declared over the summer and ordered nationwide attacks to resume.
Senior police official Azhar Mehesar told AFP the blast targeted a police team preparing to escort polio vaccinators in the city of Quetta and that those killed “include a policeman, a woman and a child.”
In a statement to AFP, the TTP claimed responsibility for the attack and said it would soon share further details.
The group was founded in 2007 by Pakistani jihadists who fought alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan in the 1990s before opposing Islamabad’s support for American intervention there after 9/11.
For a time they held vast tracts of Pakistan’s rugged tribal belt, imposing a radical interpretation of Islamic law and patrolling territory just 140 kilometers (85 miles) from the Pakistan capital.
The Pakistani military came down hard after 2014 when TTP militants raided a school for children of army personnel and killed nearly 150 people, most of them pupils.
Its fighters were largely routed into neighboring Afghanistan, but Islamabad claims the Taliban in Kabul are now giving the TTP a foothold to stage assaults across the border.
In the year since the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan, Pakistan has seen a 50 percent surge in militant attacks, according to the Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS).
Most of these attacks have been focused in the western provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, which neighbor Afghanistan.
The 2014 school assault deeply shocked Pakistan, and since then the TTP have vowed only to target state security forces.
Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only nations in the world where wild polio is still endemic.
Polio vaccination teams are routinely escorted by police in the western regions, and the TTP has made a habit of ambushing officers as they travel into those restive remote areas.
Pakistan officials on Monday launched a week-long immunization campaign aiming to inoculate over 13 million children living in “high-risk districts.”
In April, Pakistan reported its first case of polio in 15 months. Since then 20 cases have been reported, according to the government-funded End Polio Pakistan program.


Australian parliament censures former PM Morrison over secret ministries

Australian parliament censures former PM Morrison over secret ministries
Updated 30 November 2022

Australian parliament censures former PM Morrison over secret ministries

Australian parliament censures former PM Morrison over secret ministries
  • It marks the first time a former prime minister has been censured by parliament, though the motion is symbolic in nature

SYDNEY: Australia’s parliament on Wednesday voted to censure former Liberal prime minister Scott Morrison after an inquiry found his secret appointment to multiple ministries during the COVID-19 pandemic undermined trust in government.
Morrison, who lost power in a general election in May, secretly accumulated five ministerial roles during the pandemic: health, finance, treasury, resources and home affairs.
The historic motion, brought by the ruling Labor party, passed by 86 votes to 50 in the country’s lower house.
It marks the first time a former prime minister has been censured by parliament, though the motion is symbolic in nature.
“The fact is, that our democracy is precious,” Labor Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said during the debate, speaking in favor of censuring Morrison.
“There’s no room for complacency.”
Morrison has said his decisions were lawful, and that the decision was necessary in case ministers became incapacitated during the pandemic.
“For those who wish to add their judgment today on my actions in supporting this censure motion, I simply suggest that they stop and consider the following: have you ever had to deal with a crisis where the outlook was completely unknown?,” Morrison said in parliament before the vote on Wednesday.
“In such circumstances, were you able to get all the decisions perfectly right?“
Morrison said he had only used the powers on one occasion, to block BPH Energy’s PEP-11 gas exploration project.
He accepted the recommendations of an inquiry into the appointment, including legislation requiring public notice of ministerial appointments.


Trump ‘unlikely’ to be president after hosting Fuentes, top Republican McConnell suggests

Trump ‘unlikely’ to be president after hosting Fuentes, top Republican McConnell suggests
Updated 30 November 2022

Trump ‘unlikely’ to be president after hosting Fuentes, top Republican McConnell suggests

Trump ‘unlikely’ to be president after hosting Fuentes, top Republican McConnell suggests
  • 'There is no room in the Republican Party for antisemitism or white supremacy, and anyone meeting with people advocating that point of view, in my judgment, are highly unlikely to ever be elected president of the US,” McConnell told reporters

WASHINGTON: The top two Republicans in the US Congress broke their silence on Tuesday about former President Donald Trump’s dinner last week with white supremacist Nick Fuentes, saying the Republican Party has no place for antisemitism or white supremacy.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and Representative Kevin McCarthy, who may become speaker of the US House of Representatives when Republicans take control in January, had not commented previously on the Nov. 22 meeting.
Trump began his 2024 bid for the White House on Nov. 15, and is Republican voters’ top choice, according to opinion polls.
“There is no room in the Republican Party for antisemitism or white supremacy, and anyone meeting with people advocating that point of view, in my judgment, are highly unlikely to ever be elected president of the United States,” McConnell told reporters without mentioning Trump by name.
“That would apply to all of the leaders in the party who will be seeking offices,” McConnell added, when asked if he would support Trump should he become the party’s 2024 presidential nominee.
McCarthy was pressed for his thoughts on the Trump dinner by reporters at the White House, after talks with President Joe Biden.
“I don’t think anybody should be spending any time with Nick Fuentes,” said McCarthy, currently the House minority leader. “His views are nowhere within the Republican Party or within this country itself.”
Trump has said the encounter at his Mar-A-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, was inadvertent, but the meeting has drawn rare criticism from fellow Republicans, some of whom accused Trump of empowering extremism.
Tuesday’s comments were the first by McCarthy and McConnell to address the Trump dinner.
Fuentes has been described as a white supremacist by the US Justice Department. The Anti-Defamation League said Fuentes once “’jokingly denied the Holocaust and compared Jews burnt in concentration camps to cookies in an oven.’“
While president, Trump was broadly criticized for not explicitly condemning white nationalists whose August 2017 rally on a college campus in Charlottesville, Virginia, was seen as having provoked violence with counter-protesters, one of whom was killed.
“You also had people that were very fine people on both sides,” Trump said at the time.
PENCE CALLS FOR APOLOGY
Trump’s former Vice President Mike Pence on Monday called for an apology from Trump for the meeting with Fuentes.
“President Trump was wrong to give a white nationalist, an antisemite and a Holocaust denier a seat at the table, and I think he should apologize,” Pence said in a televised interview with NewsNation.
McCarthy mentioned that Trump said he didn’t know who Fuentes was.
“I condemn his ideology. It has no place in society,” he said of Fuentes.
Fuentes attended the dinner with Ye, the musician formerly known as Kanye West, who has also drawn widespread criticism for antisemitic comments.
“The president will have meetings with who he wants. I don’t think anybody, though, should have a meeting with Nick Fuentes, and his views should come nowhere within the Republican Party or the country itself,” McCarthy said.

 


NATO pledges more aid to Kyiv as air raid sirens blare again across Ukraine

NATO pledges more aid to Kyiv as air raid sirens blare again across Ukraine
Updated 30 November 2022

NATO pledges more aid to Kyiv as air raid sirens blare again across Ukraine

NATO pledges more aid to Kyiv as air raid sirens blare again across Ukraine
  • NATO against providing Ukraine with Patriots and denounced the Atlantic alliance as a “criminal entity” for delivering arms to what he called “Ukrainian fanatics”

KYIV: NATO allies promised on Tuesday more arms for Kyiv and equipment to help restore Ukrainian power and heat knocked out by Russian missile and drone strikes, as air raid sirens blared across Ukraine for the first time this week.
Ukrainians fled the streets for bomb shelters, although the all-clear later sounded across the country. In the eastern Donetsk region Russian forces pounded Ukrainian targets with artillery, mortar and tank fire.
Foreign ministers from the NATO alliance, including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, began a two-day meeting in Bucharest, seeking ways both to keep Ukrainians safe and warm and to sustain Kyiv’s military through a coming winter campaign.
“We need air defense, IRIS, Hawks, Patriots, and we need transformers (for our energy needs),” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told reporters on the sidelines of the NATO meeting, enumerating various Western air defense systems.
“In a nutshell: Patriots and transformers are what Ukraine needs the most.”
Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev warned NATO against providing Ukraine with Patriots and denounced the Atlantic alliance as a “criminal entity” for delivering arms to what he called “Ukrainian fanatics.”
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Russian President Vladimir Putin was “trying to use winter as a weapon of war” as Moscow’s forces lose ground on the battlefield.
In a statement, NATO ministers condemned Russia’s “persistent and unconscionable attacks on Ukrainian civilian and energy infrastructure” and confirmed a 2008 decision that Ukraine will eventually join the alliance. But it announced no concrete steps or timetable that would bring it closer to NATO.
US and European officials said ministers would focus in their talks on non-lethal aid such as fuel, medical supplies and winter equipment, as well as on military assistance. Washington said it would provide $53 million to buy power grid equipment.
The foreign minister of Lithuania, Gabrielius Landsbergis, urged his NATO colleagues to take the political decision to send modern battle tanks to Ukraine to give them a military edge against Russian forces. Western powers have been reluctant to go down that road for fear of stoking direct conflict with Russia.
ACCUMULATING DAMAGE
Russia has been carrying out huge attacks on Ukraine’s electricity transmission and heating infrastructure roughly weekly since October, in what Kyiv and its allies say is a deliberate campaign to harm civilians, a war crime.
Moscow says hurting civilians is not its aim but that their suffering will end only if Kyiv accepts its demands, which it has not spelled out. Although Kyiv says it shoots down most of the incoming missiles, the damage has been accumulating and the impact growing more severe with each strike.
A senior US military official said on Tuesday Russia was firing unarmed cruise missiles that were designed to carry nuclear warheads at targets in Ukraine to try to deplete Kyiv’s stocks of air defenses.
The worst barrage so far was on Nov. 23, leaving millions of Ukrainians in cold and darkness. President Volodymyr Zelensky told Ukrainians at the start of this week to expect another soon that would be at least as damaging.
There are no political talks to end the war. Moscow has annexed Ukrainian territory which it says it will never relinquish; Ukraine says it will fight until it recovers all occupied land.
Kyiv said it wants weapons to help it end the war — by winning it.
“No eloquent speech will say more than concrete action. ‘Patriot’, ‘F-16’, or ‘Leopard’ for Ukraine,” tweeted presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak, referring to US anti-aircraft missiles and fighter jets, and German tanks.
’RISKS ARE GROWING’
Russia called off nuclear talks with the United States this week at the last minute. Moscow said it had “no choice” but to cancel the talks, aimed at resuming inspections under an arms control treaty, because Washington refused to address its wider concerns about strategic stability.
Russian news agencies quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as warning Washington of unspecified risks because of its support for Kyiv against what Russia calls a “special military operation” to disarm its neighbor.
“We are sending signals to the Americans that their line of escalation and ever deeper involvement in this conflict is fraught with dire consequences. The risks are growing,” Ryabkov was quoted as saying.
In Kyiv, snow fell and temperatures were hovering around freezing as millions in and around the capital struggled to heat their homes. After a week of trying to restore electricity from the last attacks, national grid operator Ukrenergo said the system was still suffering a 30 percent shortfall of needed power.
Ukraine’s military General Staff said on Tuesday evening Russian forces in the Donetsk region were continuing to focus their efforts on taking the towns of Bakhmut and Avdiivka. A Russian missile strike on Lyman killed one person and injured three others, it said.
Ukrainian aircraft carried out nine strikes targeting Russian servicemen and equipment, notably in the southern central Zaporizhzhia region, the General Staff said.
In the southern Kherson and Kriviy Rih regions, it added, Russian forces are consolidating their defenses and keeping up artillery attacks, including on the city of Kherson which Ukraine recently recaptured.
Reuters could not independently verify the battlefield reports.
Kherson regional governor Yaroslav Yanushevych said electricity had been restored to 50 percent of Kherson city after heavy Russian bombardment.
Both sides will have to keep troops supplied and healthy in cold, wet trenches for the first long winter of the war, a bigger challenge for the Russians as an invading force with longer and more vulnerable supply lines.