Jeremy Hunt: we should bring home British orphaned children of Isil in Syria

Jeremy Hunt, former Foreign Secretary, has said Britain should bring home three British orphaned children of Islamic State fighters stranded in Syria.

The Government’s official position on Isil suspects and their families detained in camps and prisons around northern Syria has been that the situation is too dangerous to repatriate them.

"I think most people’s starting point would be yes, we should try and find a way to bring them home," Mr Hunt said, speaking Radio 4’s Today. "The sins of the parents should not be visited on their children and they should be given a start."

Amira, 10, her sister Hiba, eight, and brother Hamza, around the same age as Hiba, were discovered in the Kurdish-run Ain Issa camp by a BBC reporting team last week. 

They had been living with 21 other orphans at the camp since they were evacuated from the wreckage of Baghouz, Isil’s last redoubt, in March.

The three siblings, whose surname is unknown, emerged from Isil’s last stand bearing physical and emotional scars but still able to speak some English.

Their parents, who brought them to live in Isil’s so-called Capilphate in Syria five years ago, older brother, and two other sisters were killed in the battle.   

When challenged that he did not afford that opportunity to Shamima Begum’s baby, who died two weeks after she was discovered in a detention camp in Syria, Mr Hunt added: "We looked at those issues very, very closely and I think the instinct was to try and find a solution to that. It was very tragic that it wasn’t possible in that case."

The situation has taken on an added urgency after a Turkish assault on Kurdish-held areas of Syria has sparked chaos in the camps and prisons, which Kurdish forces have begun abandoning.

Two Australian former ‘Isil brides’ have sent audio messages asking the Australian government to rescue them as the Syrian army advances on their prison camp.

In one message, the mother of two young children sobs: “Until now Australia hasn’t done anything for us … we understand the world has hate, but we’re asking just as regretful humans, don’t let us fall into the hands of the regime, please.”

She is among 66 Australians, including 46 children, living in the al-Hol camp for the children and former partners of Islamic State fighters.

Syrian government soldiers and a pro-Damascus militia arrived in the region yesterday as part of a deal with Kurdish leaders to deter the Turkish invasion, but have been accused in the past of torturing and executing Islamic State prisoners. 

The Australian government has indicated they will not evacuate the women and children.

Petter Dutton, Australia’s home affairs minister, said in a radio interview that the women in the camp “have the potential and capacity to come back … and cause a mass casualty event”.

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said the government would not risk Australian personnel to rescue the Australians.

International affairs expert professor Mark Beeson from the University of Western Australia told The Telegraph Australian authorities should do “what they can” to get the Australians out.

Professor Beeson said the Government needs to “show a bit of gumption and leadership”, adding that “the kids aren’t to blame”.

Opposition spokesperson Kristina Keneally said the Government should act to rescue the 46 children, acknowledging that some of the women would face criminal charges in Australia if they return.

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