Six children of Canadian mother to be repatriated from Syrian detention camp

By Anja Karadeglija, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — Six children, but not their Canadian mother, will be repatriated to Canada from a detention camp in Syria.

Lawyer Lawrence Greenspon, who represents the mother, says Global Affairs Canada is planning the return of the children, who are between the ages of five and 12.

He says the government is working with the Polarization Clinic in Montreal, which supports families affected by radicalization. The clinic will receive the children, who don’t have family in Montreal and will likely end up placed in foster care if the mother is not back in the country.

Greenspon says the mother is now out of the camp and wants to return to Canada to be with her children. “Presumably her intention is to find her way back,” he said.

The federal government has refused to repatriate the woman, whose identity is not public, because officials believe she poses a security risk, according to Greenspon. 

He said the government has repatriated other Canadian women from Syrian detention camps and put in place measures to address that risk, such as placing them under terrorist peace bonds. 

The family is among many foreign nationals in Syrian camps and prisons run by Kurdish forces that reclaimed the war-torn region from the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Although the federal government decided not to facilitate the woman’s return, it offered repatriation assistance to her six children, leaving her to decide whether to send the children to Canada on their own or keep them with her in the squalid al-Roj camp.

Greenspon said “the mom was given an impossible choice.”

There is no timeline for when the children will arrive in Canada, but Greenspon said he is optimistic the government will “move expeditiously to bring the children home to safety.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 9, 2024.

Anja Karadeglija, The Canadian Press

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