April 22, 2024

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Canada says it is trying to help civilians detained in Syria

BEIRUT (AP) – Canadian officials are working with Syrian Kurdish authorities and international organizations to gather information and help Canadian citizens detained in Syria, a government spokesman said Thursday.

Sabrina Williams, a spokeswoman for Canada’s Ministry of Global Affairs, warned that her government’s capacity to provide diplomatic assistance in Syria was “very low.”

Williams’ comments to the Associated Press came in response to allegations by human rights watchdogs that Canadian authorities did not allow Canadian women and children detained in northeastern Syria to return to the country, even though they needed urgent medical treatment.

The New York-based human rights group has identified Canadians as Kimberly Bolman, 49, and a 12-year-old boy. To protect the privacy of the boy unrelated to Bolman, no further details were provided.

The AP spoke with Bolman this month at the Rose camp in Syria for three years. The woman said she looked tired and had kidney disease, high blood pressure and other problems. He also said he had suffered from hepatitis and pneumonia four times in the camp.

Williams did not elaborate on what the Canadian government plans to do, explaining that “legally, nothing more can be disclosed.”

Nearly 50 Canadian civilians are trapped in camps in northeastern Syria. Some of them were detained before the Islamic State lost its last strongholds in its self-proclaimed caliphate. More than half of them are children under the age of 7, according to Human Rights Watch.

They include tens of thousands of women and children from about 60 countries detained by US-backed Kurdish militants. Many are children, wives and widows of IS fighters.

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A few countries have agreed to deport their citizens, but many countries, including Canada, refuse to do so.