Pampers, Play-Doh and sugar-free candy – .

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The team of European police and diplomats flew secretly into northeastern Syria on what was essentially a mission of mercy. Leaked reports said they had traveled in a US military plane, a trip that would have been unlikely, almost impossible, without US support.

This part of Syria is known as Rojava, the western homeland of ethnic Kurds. They first settled there in the 12th century as soldiers in Saladin’s grand Muslim army, defending the Holy Land from Christian crusaders. Saladin was Kurdish.

War and the struggle for a homeland have been a constant in Kurdish history. In 2016, at the height of the Syrian civil war, Kurdish leaders took advantage of the chaos that surrounded them to proclaim their own region almost independent. Their well-armed militias, backed by the United States, played a crucial role in the defeat of ISIS.

A few hours after the American plane landed in Rojava, he returned to Kuwait with 11 women and 37 children on board, emerging from the misery of a detention camp run by the Kurds. All were wives and children of alleged ISIS fighters or sympathizers.

It was a joint operation organized by Germany and Denmark, with moral and legal comparisons spreading far beyond their own borders. Yes, in Canada.

Ten Canadian women and about 25 Canadian children are still held in the same detention camp in Syria, years after being captured in the remains of the ISIS battlefield. In the headlines, they are often described as “the women and children no one wants”. It’s hard to argue with that.

The Kurds begged the countries to come to Camp Roj and bring these foreign women and children home; caring for them is a heavy financial burden.

Canada stubbornly refused; even as he watches the Germans and Danes safely extract their own citizens, as other countries have done.

“MOTHERS SHOULD RESPOND”

The team of European police and diplomats flew secretly into northeastern Syria on what was essentially a mission of mercy. Leaked reports said they had traveled in a US military plane, a trip that would have been unlikely, almost impossible, without US support.

This part of Syria is known as Rojava, the western homeland of ethnic Kurds. They first settled there in the 12th century as soldiers in Saladin’s grand Muslim army, defending the Holy Land from Christian crusaders. Saladin was Kurdish.

War and the struggle for a homeland have been a constant in Kurdish history. In 2016, at the height of the Syrian civil war, Kurdish leaders took advantage of the chaos that surrounded them to proclaim their own region almost independent. Their well-armed militias, backed by the United States, played a crucial role in the defeat of ISIS.

A few hours after the American plane landed in Rojava, he returned to Kuwait with 11 women and 37 children on board, emerging from the misery of a detention camp run by the Kurds. All were wives and children of alleged ISIS fighters or sympathizers.

It was a joint operation organized by Germany and Denmark, with moral and legal comparisons spreading far beyond their own borders. Yes, in Canada.

Ten Canadian women and about 25 Canadian children are still held in the same detention camp in Syria, years after being captured in the remains of the ISIS battlefield. In the headlines, they are often described as “the women and children no one wants”. It’s hard to argue with that.

The Kurds begged the countries to come to Camp Roj and bring these foreign women and children home; caring for them is a heavy financial burden.

Canada stubbornly refused; even as he watches the Germans and Danes safely extract their own citizens, as other countries have done.

“COMPLICITY OF HIS PENDING DEATH”

“I think she is unlikely to survive if she stays in the camp without access to medical and psychological care any longer. “

His sister wrote to the government asking for his release on humanitarian grounds.

“Canada has the ability to save his life, and by not acting immediately, the Canadian government… is complicit in his impending death.

An access to information request from CTV News shows that when Canada was first informed that the Kurds were detaining Canadian women and children, the response was hesitant, cautious and minimal.

It took a month of intensive negotiations to arrange a face-to-face meeting with the Kurdish leadership, mainly due to Canada’s reluctance to send diplomats to Syria. The Kurds insisted that all encounters take place on their soil.

“A meeting on the Syrian side is prohibited for us at the moment,” a senior diplomat wrote to her colleagues on February 10, 2018. “Can you go back… and explain that we can only meet in Iraq for the moment . “

Andrew Turner, then Canada’s charge d’affaires in Baghdad, responded the next day.

“BGHDD (Baghdad) strongly advises against any crossing to Syria from any part of Iraq, regardless of duration or distance. The security risks and political uncertainty are just too unpredictable, with very little capacity to respond to anything wrong. “

The meeting with the Kurds finally took place on March 13 in Sulaymaniyah, a Kurdish town inside Iraq. Three years later, Canada still maintains that it is too dangerous to send diplomats to Syria.

In this first session, Canada outlined its objectives, although much of the information contained in the access communiqué – 750 pages – was heavily redacted.

Canada asked the Kurds for a “secure commitment to facilitate communications of detainees with consular officials by telephone / video”.

The women have contraband phones, used to contact their families, but not a single Canadian in the camp has received a call or text from a Canadian official, and certainly not a video communication.

Canada also asked the Kurds to take back diapers, sleepers and cans of powdered milk for the youngest. “We have the green light to move forward and mount a care package,” wrote a diplomat three days before the meeting.

A follow-up email contained photos of the items on the list, including: 3 large cans of infant formula, 2 pacifiers, 60 Pampers diapers, 3 jumpsuits, plus crayons, stickers, Play-Doh and, strangely enough, Swedish candy without sugar. .

There is nothing in the access authorization to confirm that the women have received the care package.

“We hope that basic necessities will reach their recipients,” wrote the diplomat in charge. “I cannot guarantee given the distance, the various chains of custody expected and the desperate situation in Iraq and Syria. “

While the program of care has indeed reached women, it appears to be the one and only time that Canada has sent direct support.

“No sanitary napkins or diapers. No drugs. The Canadian government has done nothing except stand in the way, ”says Alexandra Bain. “They haven’t even arranged a legal way for families to send money. “

Responding to a request for comment, Jason Kung, spokesperson for Global Affairs, said Canada has provided more than $ 530 million in humanitarian assistance to Syria since 2016.

He said this includes “providing assistance to displaced people in northeastern Syria,” through the UN and other civilian partners.

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