Four women, 10 children on way to Canada from Syrian prison camps: Global Affairs

Four Canadian women and 10 children are returning home from a prisoner of war camp in northeastern Syria, the federal government said Thursday.

The Canadian is one of many foreign nationals in Syrian refugee camps where Kurdish forces have retaken the war-torn region from the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

The long-awaited flight to Canada is expected to bring more people home.

In January, lawyer Lawrence Greenspon reached an agreement with the federal government to repatriate six Canadian women and 13 children involved in the court proceedings.

However, Greenspoon said Thursday that the two mothers and three children did not miss the flight at the designated meeting point. “They can’t find them.”

He said he expected Global Affairs Canada would try to locate the five individuals and return them to Canada as well.

A Quebec mother and her six children also wanted to come to Canada, but they were also not among the returnees, Greenspoon said.

While the six children were ruled eligible to be repatriated from Syria, their mother was told she could not join them because her security assessment was incomplete.

Greenspoon said Thursday it was “inexcusable” given that Global Affairs said in writing in late November that the woman and her child met the criteria for federal consideration of assistance to Canadians detained in the region.

“It’s ridiculous to use that as an excuse.”

Global Affairs Canada and Public Safety Canada said in a statement that amid reports of deteriorating conditions in the camps, “we have been paying particular attention to the health and well-being of Canadian children.”

“We will continue this work as long as conditions permit.”

The ministries thanked the autonomous governments in northern and eastern Syria for their cooperation and the United States for assistance in the repatriation.

“We are unable to provide information about individuals due to privacy concerns, and we are unable to share details of deportation for operational reasons.”

Little is known to the public about the 14 returnees or how they were detained. RCMP officials recently visited Syria to conduct interviews at the camp.

“Where there is sufficient evidence, law enforcement and public safety agencies will independently take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of our communities,” the federal department said Thursday.

“We reiterate that it is a serious criminal offense for anyone leaving Canada to knowingly support a terrorist organization, and those who engage in these activities face the full scope of Canadian law.”

—Jim Brownskill, Canadian Press

federal politics syria

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