Damascus – Ten 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.
“After years of waiting and no possibility of a verdict (…) they feel that they have no other choice but to refrain from eating,” said lawyers Marie Dose and Ludovic Riviere, who advise some of these women.
They added, “These women explained in audio messages sent to their relatives that they can no longer bear watching their children suffer, and that they want to assume their responsibility and to be judged in France for what they have done.”
About 80 women who joined ISIS are being held with 200 children in camps in Syria run by Kurdish forces.
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.
The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child warned in November of the “immediate” danger to the lives of these children, who are being held 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 of them have been returned, 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 diagnosed with cancer, who was kept in a camp with her four children, stopped eating at the beginning of February in an effort to push her daughter back home.
In 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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