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Children's charity slams UK 'inaction' on British orphans stranded in Syria

Some 60 British children are thought to be stranded in northeastern Syria [Getty/ Archive]

Date of publication: 19 July, 2020

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The UK government has reportedly rebuffed demands for information on when stranded children will be repatriated.

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UK, Syria.
A children's charity has accused the UK government of "alarming inaction" over the plight of British children stranded in Syria, after allegedly failing on a pledge to assist them.

UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab said in October that "unaccompanied minors or orphans" in the war-torn country could be returned to Britain, leading to the return of three minors in November.

The move was hailed by the UK government, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson praising the repatriation as "a great success".

Since then, progress has seemingly stalled, with Whitehall refusing to say when they will be allowed to travel back to Britain. It is thought that some 60 British children remain stranded in northeastern Syria.

UK-based charity Save The Children says it has written to the Home Office, including to Home Secretary Priti Patel, to demand answers.

"We've repeatedly tried to engage the Home Office and Foreign Office on a progress report about what is happening and the state of the children’s safety, but we have received no further information or what steps have been taken. We are concerned at the alarming inaction," Orlaith Minogue, conflict and humanitarian advocacy adviser at Save the Children, was quoted by The Guardian as saying.

"When we had those statements from Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab [last year] they were under a lot of political pressure but since then we’ve heard nothing," she added.

The fate of British nationals stranded in Syria has come to received renewed attention following a court decision allowing Shamima Begum the right to contest the UK government’s decision to repeal her citizenship in person.

Begum, now 20, was one of three British schoolgirls who travelled together to Islamic State group-controlled territory in 2015.

After giving several interviews to the British and international press in which she claimed she had not committed any crimes while living under IS, Begum was stripped of her British citizenship by Home Secretary Sajid Javid.

Her two-week-old son Jarrah died shortly after, causing many to blame Javid for the death of the newborn who had been born a British citizen.

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