French women detained in camps in Syria began a hunger strike on Sunday, “to protest the persistent refusal” by the French authorities to “organize their return with their children” to their country.
Two lawyers for ten French women said that “after years of waiting, and there is no possibility of a verdict against them, they feel that they have no other choice but to abstain from eating.”
In a statement, attorneys Marie Dose and Ludovic Riviere, who advise these women, said: “They explained, in audio messages sent to their relatives, that they could no longer bear watching their children suffer, and that they wanted to assume their responsibility, and to be judged in France for what they had done.” .
About 80 women who joined ISIS, along with 200 children, are being held in camps in Syria, run by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The International Committee of the Red Cross, which works in the al-Hol and Roj camps in northeastern Syria, says that children suffer from malnutrition and severe respiratory diseases during the winter.
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The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child warned in November of the “immediate” danger to the lives of these children, detained in “inhumane sanitary conditions” and deprived of “the most basic food.”
For years, Paris has adopted a case-by-case policy regarding the return of these children. So far, 35 have been repatriated, most of them orphans.
The two lawyers said that “leaving these women in these camps, while the Kurdish authorities have been urging France for years to return them, is completely irresponsible and inhuman.”
Pascal Decamp, the mother of a 32-year-old woman with cancer who was kept in a camp with her four children, stopped eating at the beginning of February, in an effort to push for her daughter’s repatriation.
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Last December, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights asked France to “take the necessary measures” to allow this woman access to medical care.
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