The French government took no action despite receiving several warnings about her deteriorating health in a Syrian detention camp for Daesh families, her lawyers say.
A 28-year-old French woman died in Roj camp in Northeastern Syria on December 14 and her lawyers had anticipated her passing well in advance.
"I wrote dozens of times to the French authorities that this woman was going to die," said her lawyer, Marie Dose in a press conference on Wednesday.
She was one of the 80 French women who had allegedly joined Daesh and was later taken to various detention camps in Northeastern Syria. She is the first French national to have died in a refugee camp that's exclusively meant to house the families of slain or living Daesh members.
Dose said she repeatedly requested medical repatriation to France for the deceased woman who was diagnosed with severe diabetes. She needed medical support since she had become heavily dependent on insulin.
In January 2021, a French delegation came to the camp looking for seven children whose mothers had passed. The children lived next to the tent of the diabetic French woman and her little daughter. Despite seeing her health condition, the delegation made the "choice to leave them there”, according to Collectif des Familles Uniesm, a collective of families defending fundamental rights.
“Women are left to die in camps, in full knowledge of the facts…France made an orphan,” Dose said.
France’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is yet to respond to TRT World’s request for comments. The story will be updated should the ministry respond to our questions.
Around 320 French children await repatriation
The lawyer says the French woman “could have been saved if she had been repatriated.” But the woman’s death and the unknown future of her newly orphaned daughter have brought France’s repatriation policy under the spotlight.
The lawyer is now getting ready to file another complaint against the French state to demand the repatriation of children in detention camps in Syria, including the late French woman’s 6-year-old daughter, Sarah.
Human rights organisations, the United Nations, and the camps’ officials call for countries to take responsibility for their own citizens, saying that they can’t live in these camps forever.
Meanwhile, a group of French lawyers has long been pushing for reparations at home, insisting that the parents should be tried in France, despite them being subject to an anti-terrorism judicial investigation.
In detention camps in Northeastern Syria, living conditions have also been a reason for human rights defenders to call for immediate repatriations.
These camps are surrounded by barbed wires and lack the appropriate medical support system, while outbreaks of chronic illnesses such as hepatitis, diarrhea and hypertension and diabetes are common. Then the risk of tent fires looms large in the winter.
All things considered, bringing foreign citizens to their home countries hasn't been an outlandish demand for Eric Dupond-Moretti, France’s Minister of Justice.
"Of course...They must have their right to a fair trial,” a former criminal defence lawyer, Dupond-Moretti said in 2019 in a TV programme, referring to the French citizens who are stuck in Syria and Iraq camps.
But France’s current repatriation policy only allows the homecoming of children – an approach that separates parents from their children.
There are currently around 320 French children in the Syrian camps. Only 35 children have been brought to France so far, thanks to the collective efforts made by a group of French lawyers.
A pressing majority of the repatriated children were orphans, but Dose said there had been no reparations since January 2021.
A pressing majority of the repatriated children were orphans, but Dose reminds that there had been no reparations since January 2021.
After her mother's burial on Tuesday, no one knows yet whether France will eventually accept Sarah who is now alone in the Roj camp with no psychological support.