'Bring back Covid-infected British family from Syria-Iraq border': Reprieve

'Bring back Covid-infected British family from Syria-Iraq border': Reprieve
2 min read
12 May, 2021
Reprieve's executive director explained that the Covid-infected family 'all have roots in the UK.'
One toddler suffers from breathing issues [DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty-file photo]

A family suffering from Covid-19 held in a camp along the Syria-Iraq border should be brought back to the UK, human rights group Reprieve said.

The Guardian said supporters claim the family was trafficked into an area controlled by the so-called Islamic State.

One toddler has breathing issues, while an adult member suffers from asthma, activists claim.

Reprieve argued they’re under a "real risk of life-threatening illness, and possibly death", and lack proper medical provision.

The non-profit cited a paediatrician and others, adding that the family have spoken of fever, and respiratory and sight problems, among others.

Maya Foa, Reprieve’s executive director, explained: "They all have roots in the UK.

"They are British and I have spent time with them in the camp.

She stated that they "very likely… include victims of trafficking".

"As well as the imperative to bring them back to receive treatment, surely the British government should also now be looking to investigate trafficking, and they would be happy to speak to the authorities," she continued.

Tory Baroness Sayeeda Warsi supported Reprieve, accusing the government of looking at women trafficked out of the UK as "perpetrators, not victims".

She explained: "I would absolutely make the case on compassionate grounds for why British nationals should not be left in the middle of a pandemic stateless in the middle of a desert.

"But it's also just an appalling denial by us as a country in terms of how all these women and children are being treated.

"We cannot hold ourselves up as a bastion for our policy against trafficking, modern-day slavery and sexual violence in conflict… and then simply close our eyes when it comes to our own citizens being subjected to the very actions that we are campaigning against."

Read more: Cashing in on misery: Despite Covid-19, North Africa's human traffickers are thriving

A UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office spokesman explained that the decision to provide consular support is made on the merit of individual situations.

The spokesperson related that the FCDO makes repatriation decisions concerning "British unaccompanied or orphaned children… subject to national security concerns".


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