From: Alice Taylor
UN Calls on Albania to Repatriate Women and Girls in Syria Urgently

The United Nations has spoken out over the deteriorating situation in the Al Hol and Roj camps in northeast Syria where some 64,000 people, mainly women, and children are interred.

In a statement released yesterday, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights implored 57 states, whose nationals are held there, to repatriate them without delay.

“The number of the countries concerned and the dire humanitarian conditions of the camps highlight the need for collective, sustained and immediate action to prevent irreparable harm to the persons in vulnerable situation held there,” the experts said. “Thousands of people held in the camps are exposed to violence, exploitation, abuse, and deprivation in conditions and treatment that may well amount to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment under international law, with no effective remedy at their disposal. An unknown number have already died because of their conditions of detention.”

The UN has sent letters to 57 states, including Albania, calling for urgent action.

Reports of increased violence in camps since the beginning of the year is a big cause for concern, especially as more than 80% of those in the Al Hol camp are believed to be women and girls.

UN experts said justice, truth, and reparation is required for all the victims of the serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law that have occurred in the region. The continued detention on unclear grounds, of these women and children, is of grave concern they added.

“States have a primary responsibility to act with due diligence and take positive steps and effective measures to protect individuals in vulnerable situations, notably women and children, located outside of their territory where they are at risk of serious human rights violations or abuses, where States’ actions or omissions can positively impact on these individuals’ human rights,” the experts said.

They reminded states that the repatriation process must be done in line with international human rights law and that respect of their human rights must be ensured upon their return. This includes actively supporting reintegration with the provision of adequate social, psychological, and educational support while being conscious of gender-specific traumas that could have been inflicted on them such as rape and sexual abuse.

In 2020, the Albanian government brought home four Albanian children and one woman. Since then, nothing has been heard of the fate of the estimated 51 other Albanian children currently in the Al Hol camp.