Repatriation of child returnees from Northeast Syria: A child-rights approach to their management, rehabilitation, and reintegration

Tanya Mehra LL.M, Matthew Wentworth 21 Dec 2022

Keywords: refugee camps, Northeast Syria, repatriation, rehabilitation, reintegration, child returnees, rights-based approach

State practices relating to the repatriation of child returnees from Northeast Syria continue to be inconsistent and incomplete. With an increasing number of European countries escalating their efforts to bring home women and children from the camps, it is imperative that these practices include holistic policies towards child returnees that address the wide range of issues presented not only in the short- but also in the mid- and long-term. This includes recognition that experiences, and therefore their resulting needs, can differ depending on many factors unique to each child and also that many countries have a number of policies and measures that can inform each other’s child returnee management practices and should be utilised. This policy brief provides a child rights-based approach to the management of child returnees based on the concept of the best interest of the child and offers some observations and recommendations for states on how to develop comprehensive policies for the management of child returnees.

Related Readings:

Mehra, T., Wentworth, M., and Thorley, A. The European Court of Human Rights Sitting on the Fence?: Its Ruling and Impact on the Repatriation of European Children from North-East Syria. Perspective, The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, 16 September 2022

Mehra, T. The Repatriation of Five Women and Eleven Children from Syria: A Turning Point in the Netherlands? Perspective, The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, 11 February 2022

Mehra, T., Paulussen C., The Repatriation of Foreign Fighters and Their Families: Options, Obligations, Morality and Long-Term Thinking. Perspective, The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, 6 March 2019

Mehra, T. European countries are being challenged in court to repatriate their foreign fighters and families. Perspective, The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, 7 November 2019

Van der Heide, L., and Geenen, J. Children of the Caliphate: Young IS Returnees and the Reintegration Challenge. Research Paper, The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, 28 August 2017