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Ukrainian Woman, Seven Children Being Repatriated From Syria

Updated

The family were detained at the Roj camp in Syria.

Ukraine’s government is repatriating a Ukrainian woman and her seven children from Syria, an RFE/RL correspondent on the Syrian-Iraqi border reported.

Officials said the operation has been organized by the government in Kyiv with the support of the authorities in Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdish region.

The family had been detained at the Roj camp in northeastern Syria since at least 2019.

The woman identified as Amina, told RFE/RL that she used to live in Crimea and fled the Black Sea peninsula after Russia illegally annexed it in February-March 2014.

She then lived for some time in Ukraine's western city of Lviv before moving to Syria.

"I am very thankful to the Ukrainian government for not forgetting about us and bringing us back home," Amina said.

After returning to Ukraine, the authorities are expected to restore their documents.

"It will be important for women and children to adapt to normal life," said Vadym Skibitskiy, a spokesman for the Defense Ministry's Main Intelligence Directorate.

This is the second such evacuation organized by Kyiv since December 2020, when two Ukrainian women and seven children returned to their homeland on December 31, 2020, after the security services checked they had not been involved in “terrorist activities."

Earlier this year, Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged Kyiv to increase consular assistance to and repatriate an estimated 40 Ukrainian women and children it says were being "unlawfully" held in "horrific" conditions in Roj and Al-Hol, another camp in northeastern Syria.

The majority of them were children, some as young as 2 years old, the New York-based human rights watchdog said.

According to HRW, the group was among nearly 43,000 foreigners with links to the Islamic State extremist group who were being held by regional authorities.

Many countries cite the potential security risks posed by their nationals as a reason for not bringing them home.

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