Mother of Canadian girl freed from ISIS detention camp in Syria returning to Canada

November 12, 2021
Mother of Canadian girl freed from ISIS detention camp in Syria returning to Canada

The Canadian government has issued documents to the mother of a four-year-old girl who was freed from an ISIS detention camp in northeastern Syria earlier this year so she can return home to Canada and reunite with her daughter.

A copy of the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada letter was shared with CBC by the woman’s lawyer, Paul Champ

“Needless to say, our client is overwhelmed and happy,” he said.

“Its been over eight months since she saw her daughter and four months of waiting in Irbil, [Iraq]. And she hasn’t been to Canada in over seven years. We expect she will be on a flight very early next week.”

Working with former U.S. diplomat Peter Galbraith, the woman was able to get the the young girl, who was four at the time, out of the Al Roj camp last March and into Iraq, from where she flew to Canada.

The camp houses more than 700 families of suspected ISIS militants and is under the control of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

Galbraith helped get the mother released from the camp a few months after her daughter left, but she was waiting in Irbil for the proper documents from the Canadian government.

On Nov. 11, the government issued her an emergency travel document.

The group Human Rights Watch provided this photo of the four-year-old Canadian girl after she escaped a detention camp for family members of suspected ISIS fighters in northeast Syria earlier this year. (Submitted by Human Rights Watch)

The Canadian government has been under pressure from human rights advocates to repatriate and provide adequate consular assistance to dozens of citizens currently detained in northeast Syria — along with their children in some cases — because of alleged ties to ISIS.

A 2020 report from the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch accused the government of flouting its international human rights obligations and urged Ottawa to bring all of its detained citizens home from camps and prisons controlled by Kurdish forces to rehabilitate them and prosecute anyone accused of a crime.

The Human Rights Watch report estimates that there are more than 40 Canadian citizens currently detained in northeast Syria because of alleged ties to the Islamic State, and that more than 20 of them are children — many under the age of six.

WATCH | Women describe life in ISIS detention camp:

The Canadian mothers inside an ISIS detention camp

As word spreads in the al-Roj Syrian detention camp for families of ISIS fighters that a four-year-old Canadian girl was freed, other mothers grapple with sending their own children to safety. Some say they couldn’t survive without them, while others beg Canada to bring them to safety. 2:10

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