“France today proceeded to the return to the national territory of 35 French minor children who were in the camps in north-eastern Syria. This operation also includes the return of 16 mothers from these same camps”, according to the statement, which states that the mothers have been handed over to legal authorities and the children to child welfare services.

These 35 children are in addition to the 126 children whose parents had joined territories taken over from the Islamic State already repatriated to France since 2016.

Before this latest repatriation, there remained nearly 200 minors and 80 mothers in camps in northeastern Syria controlled by the Kurds, where living conditions are “appalling” according to the UN.

On December 14, 2021, a 28-year-old French woman with diabetes died, leaving a six-year-old girl orphan.

At the end of April, the Defender of Rights, Claire Hédon had urged the government to proceed with the repatriation “as soon as possible” of all the French children detained in the camps in North-East Syria.

In a press release published on Tuesday, the “Collective of united families”, which brings together families of French people who have left for the Iraqi-Syrian zone, said “hope” that this last repatriation “signs the end of this abject case-by-case policy which returns to sort children, to separate siblings and to snatch children from their mothers”.