About fifty French celebrities have launched a campaign to sponsor children detained at the Roj prison camp in northeastern Syria in order to pressure the authorities to be repatriated.
Other well-known personalities behind the initiative include Jacques Doillon, Mia Hansen-Love, Audrey Fleurot, Carole Bouquet, Charles Berling and Philippe Torreton, and writers Dan Franck and Marie Desplechin.
In addition to allowing people to sponsor children in the camp guarded by Kurdish forces, the campaign organizes the sending of letters to the Elysee and to various ministries.
Sponsors will receive photos, sound recordings and other details of the children held in the camp, which is home to tens of thousands of displaced people, including families of foreign Islamic State jihadists.
Aram said the aim was to tell families that “there is another France than the one that refuses to repatriate them”.
To date, 35 children, most of them orphans, have been repatriated by France. Paris believes that adults should be tried on the spot.
Lobby for policy change
Lawyer Marie Dosé is also behind the campaign, which said France must stop “clinging to its policy” of repatriating people on a case-by-case basis.
Instead, she said Paris should follow the lead of Germany and Denmark, which in a large humanitarian operation this month repatriated 11 women who had joined the Islamic State group, as well as 37 children.
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child ruled last year that France had jurisdiction over these children and was required to ensure their protection in accordance with the international conventions it had signed.
In September, the NGO Save the Children reported that 62 children had died in Roj and Al-Hoj camps since January as a result of malnutrition, disease, poor sanitation and fires.