This Tuesday, early in the morning, two private planes landed at Paris Bourget airport. They were chartered by the French Government, one of them medicalized, and they were transporting 16 women and 35 children. They all came from Syria, where they have spent three years housed in one of the most inhospitable corners of the world: the camp where, for three years, thousands of relatives of members of the Islamic State have remained without their countries of origin being interested in them.

Aware that the situation of these people is a hot potato, that the more time it spends burning, the more risk it has of exploding, the Elysee has ended up taking action on the matter. He has broken with his ‘case by case’ policy and has instead opted for a mass transfer, the first since January 2021. As soon as they set foot on land, the little ones, some allegedly orphans, have been handed over to the services social. The women have gone to court.

For years, the informal authorities in northern Syria – a region controlled by Kurdish forces – have asked the international community for support in managing the large number of people left in their hands in 2019 after the defeat of the Islamic State pseudo-caliphate. Without the capacity to dispense justice and with meager resources to support a large number of foreigners, the Kurds found that many of their home countries refused to take care of them.

Such has been the case in Spain, although relatively few people linked to the country remain on Syrian soil compared to France. About 700 Gauls had traveled to Syria and Iraq to join IS. The French were victims of bloody attacks like the one on the Bataclan room, which left 130 dead. Consequently, the repatriation of IS militia wives and their children has become a politically toxic issue, but one of the highest humanitarian order.

As Save the Children warned last September, in Syrian camps such as Al Hol, where they and their children remain, an average of two people have died each week. The attacks of violent groups against the guards or against other campers, the spread of contagious diseases or health problems derived from spoiled food or the presence of scorpions have made life miserable for those who stay there.

The men are in a different place, with greater security but, even so, with a weak prison system. Last February, an IS cell managed to organize an attack on the complex where they are located, which led to a riot and the escape of some of the inmates. In Al Hol, that event was experienced with some enthusiasm, a symptom that the danger of radicalization is persistent and threatens to worsen, especially affecting minors.

Since 2016, France has repatriated 126 children. The flights this Tuesday respond to an initiative, launched by several organizations and supported by relatives of the children, to bring at least 200 minors to the country. According to official sources, the women, mothers or not, will be subjected to interrogations and a judicial process so that they are accountable to the Justice. This is not the case for men: in 2019, Iraq executed nine Frenchmen accused of joining the so-called Daesh.

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