Tajik authorities intend to bring back home women and children stranded in Syrian refugee camps.

According to the Tajik MFA information department, the issue of repatriation of Tajik women and children from Syria  was discussed at a meeting of Tajikistan’s Ambassador to Iraq and Kuwait Zubaydulo Zubaydzoda with Syrian Foreign Minister Feisal al-Mekdad that took place in Damascus on October 2. 

The two sides reportedly discussed issues related to determining the identity and the number of Tajik nationals stranded in Syrian refugee camps and the ways of bring them back home.

Recall, Tajik Foreign Minister Sirojiddin Muhriddin noted in early August this year that 86 women and 468 children are currently being held in refugee camps in Syria and there are 46 Tajik mothers serving their jail terms in Iraq, with one child between them.

According to some sources, Syrian refugee camps currently house at least 575 Tajik women and children whose families had joined the Islamic State (IS) terror group.  Most of the Tajiks are reportedly in the Al-Hol refugee camp, located in northeastern Syria.

"About 90 of them are women, more than 200 girls, and more than 240 boys. Some children are as young as 1 year old and most are orphans,” Radio Liberty’s Tajik Service said on September 12, citing a source within the Tajik government,.

The majority of them reportedly arrived at the camp earlier in 2019 after being freed by IS fighters in Baghuz, the extremist group's last stronghold, which fell to Kurdish-led forces in March.

"This is not a final statistic, in reality the number of Tajik citizens could be much higher," the source told RFE/RL’s Tajik Service, speaking on condition of anonymity.

In a 21-page reported released on September 21, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria noted that Up to 70,000 individuals remain interned in deplorable and inhumane conditions at Al-Hol camp, the vast majority of whom are women and children under the age of 12.  The report described the situation at the Al-Hol camp as “appalling,” and expressed concerns that most of the 3,500 children held there lack documents and are at risk of being left stateless.

Commission representative Paulo Pinheiro many UN member states were unwilling to repatriate the children, particularly those aged of 12 to 18, due to fears that they might have links to extremism.

Recall, 84 children  whose Tajik mothers are imprisoned in Iraq under charges of belonging to the IS terror group were brought home on April 30.  The children were reportedly carried to Tajikistan by plane of Iraqi air carrier FlyErbil.  

Returning children underwent medical check-ups and received necessary medical treatments and vaccinations soon after their arrival.  Trained psychologists and teachers reportedly worked with children to help them adapt to their new life in Tajikistan.   

According to data from the State Committee for National Security (SCNS) of Tajikistan, some 1,900 people from Tajikistan have left for Iraq and Syria since 2014 to join the IS terror group.  More than 1,700 of them have reportedly been put on the international wanted list.  Some 500 Tajiks were reportedly killed in armed conflicts in Middle East and more than 700 others were detained.  Besides, many Tajik nationals have reportedly joined extremists group in Afghanistan and Pakistan.         

More than 100 people in total, including families with children, have reportedly returned from the conflict zone -- both before and after the amnesty was offered in 2015.

Some were convicted of being mercenaries or recruiting for foreign terrorist organizations.  Most, however, have reportedly reintegrated into society under the watchful eyes of authorities, including security services and neighborhood committees.

Tajik authorities in 2015 offered an amnesty to those who voluntarily returned and renounced violence, seeing it as an opportunity to warn citizens