World Most British women in NE Syria are trafficking victims: NGO
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The majority of British women and children detained in displacement camps in northeast Syria are trafficking victims being failed by the UK government, rights group Reprieve said Friday.
The women, some who were as young as 12 when they were taken to Syria, were trafficked by the Islamic State group (IS) and subjected to sexual and other forms of exploitation, the UK-based NGO's investigation found.
It accused the British government of "systematically failing" them through policies of blanket citizenship stripping, refusing repatriation and withholding basic consular assistance.
An Iranian tanker affected by an attack off Syria (NGO)
© - A photo provided by the Syrian official Syrian agency SANA on April 24 2021 Watch of smoke rising from a tanker off the port of Banias in the west of Syria an attack targeted Saturday an Iranian tanker whose tanks caught fire, off Syria, the first attack of the genre since the beginning of the war in this country there is At 10, has indicated a Syrian NGO.
UK authorities have long grappled with how to handle the estimated 900 Britons who travelled to Syria and Iraq to join the conflict there.
Although hundreds have returned to the UK -- with dozens then prosecuted -- the government has revoked more than 150 people's citizenship and an unconfirmed number remain in the hands of pro-Western Kurdish militias in northeast Syria.
Shamima Begum, who was just 15 when she and two other schoolgirls from London travelled to Syria to join the jihadists, is the most high-profile case.
She was stripped of her citizenship in 2019, and recently lost a long-running legal bid to return to appeal the decision.
Reprieve, which estimates around 25 British adults and 34 UK children are still being held, urged London to reverse its policies.
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"The complex dynamics of the situation of British women and children detained in NES (northeast Syria) can only be properly dealt with by the UK authorities when the families are repatriated to Britain," it said.
"It is wrong to suggest that the UK can abandon these victims of trafficking."
Siobhan Mullally, UN Special Rapporteur on the issue, wrote in a foreword to the report that Britain was failing to meet slavery and human trafficking commitments.
"Urgent protection gaps now exist in relation to UK nationals," she wrote.
- 'Blind-spot' -
The NGO's probe relied on extensive research conducted in the region since 2017, including face-to-face interviews with detainees in Syrian camps as well as discussions with their relatives.
At least 63 percent of the British women and children there are victims of trafficking, either transported as children, coerced into travelling there or kept and moved internally against their will, Reprieve said.
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It concluded that IS used similar tactics to child sex trafficking gangs, grooming and recruiting hundreds of women and girls who were subsequently forced into marriage, sexual slavery and domestic servitude.
In another report foreword Andrew Mitchell, a lawmaker from Britain's ruling Conservatives and a former international development minister, accused his government of having a "blind-spot" on the issue.
"We cannot wash our hands of these Britons, abandoning them in ungoverned space," he wrote.
The government noted it would not use gender or age in national security risk assessments and that those who fought for or supported IS should face justice in what it calls the most "appropriate" jurisdiction.
"Our priority is to ensure the safety and security of the UK," a government spokeswoman said, adding that it has worked to repatriate British children "subject to national security concerns".
At least 130 migrants were drowned in the Mediterranean .
© Flavio Gasperini / SOS Mediterrane via Reuters the remains of a pneumatic boat after caping and caused the death of more than 100 migrants. A pneumatic boat with no more than 100 migrants capsome off Libya. At least 10 bodies were found while more than 2,200 migrants perished at sea trying to reach Europe last year. Ten bodies were found off Libya near a pneumatic boat that was shipwrecked and would have transported 130 migrants , said the French humanitarian organization SOS Mediterranean.