Kurdish authorities in north-eastern Syria have removed a large group of Australian women and children from a prison camp for families of Islamic State fighters.
- The Australians have reportedly been moved to a camp with better conditions
- However Kamalle Dabboussy, whose daughter is among them, says they will no longer be able to talk by phone
- Save The Children wants the Australian government to repatriate children
They were the last Australians remaining in the al-Hawl camp, after several families were taken in a midnight raid last week.
Among them was the daughter of Sydney man Kamalle Dabboussy, who heard Kurdish authorities moved her this week after 18 months of being held in al-Hawl.
“My daughter was taken, my grandchildren have been taken,” he told the ABC’s AM program.
“I’m anxious, I’m worried.”
The al-Hawl camp, which is crowded and squalid, holds family members of Islamic State fighters and other people displaced by the fight against the terrorist group.
The Syrian Kurdish authorities controlling al-Hawl have said they are moving around 50 Australians to the smaller al-Roj camp where, it’s claimed, there is more of a focus on re-education and rehabilitation.
Mr Dabboussy said he was hopeful at reports that conditions were better at al-Roj, but he remained worried there is still no plan for the families to leave Syria.
“What we hear is that there is some better medical facilities, there’s cleaner water, there’s better security.
“One assumes that it’s probably better to be in al-Roj than al-Hawl but this is a degree; al-Hawl is one of the most dangerous places on the planet for children.”
New security arrangements at al-Roj mean that mobile phones will be banned and Mr Dabboussy said he will not be able to contact his family.
“My ability to speak to my grandchildren, just tell them there’s a grandfather here in Australia that cares and loves them, is gone.”
“The ability for those kids to hear their aunties voices and occasionally their grandmother’s voice is gone, we’ve lost that connection.”
Australian government monitoring the situation but still no solution
The Australian Government says it is monitoring the situation and working with humanitarian groups, which provide aid to the camps.
Save The Children Australia’s director of policy and international programs Matt Tinkler said he hopes the Government does more to secure the return of children in north eastern Syria.
“These are really desperate conditions and these Australian children are innocent, they deserve to be brought home to Australia.”
“There’s really no practical or serious barrier to bringing them home now, it just needs the political will from the Australian Government.”
Many of the Australian prisoners only have Australian citizenship, or the right to it, and Syrian Kurdish authorities have long said they cannot hold people forever.
The Government fears bringing radicalised women and children back in to the country, but experts who have worked with the families have told the ABC those risks will only increase the longer that people remain in Syria.