Wednesday, 5 October 2022

Syrian refugee camps

may be "hell on earth" but please don't expect all of those who get the opportunity to leave to be "grateful". They won't be.

There are plans to "secretly" remove the women and children who are "Downunder citizens" and return them to this country. The very fact that (a) it is supposed to be a "secret" operation and (b) that it has been made known (even if the details have not) is something for concern.

Many people assume anyone in a refugee camp will be so grateful to leave they will willingly embrace a better life elsewhere. That's a mistake.

Yes, there were very young women who were "tricked" into going. The belief you are "in love" with someone can cause people to do these things. Certainly some of them were naive enough to believe what they were told about a life of luxury under the about to be caliphate. There were also others who had more idea what they were going into but their belief in the jihad was so strong that they went.  

They went even though they were breaking the law in this country and they knew it. They went even though they knew it was a war zone. They went even though they had been made aware of at least some of the difficulties they were going to face. 

Nothing would have prepared any of them for the reality. It may not even have made any difference. They would still have believed in the ideals and wanted to work towards them. 

And many of them still feel that way. They are not going to be grateful. They are simply going to see it as a set back. Returning here is simply going to mean carrying on the jihad in other ways in this country.

Their children, especially the young males, will have been brought up to believe these things. You can't hold contrary views in a refugee camp. A contrary view could cost you your life. It is all that you will have been told. There is no other point of view to be had. Disputes are settled by violence, not negotiation. Rape is so common that it is seen as acceptable by many. There are brothels in refugee camps.

There have been plenty of people in the wider community here who believe we should simply "bring them home". There are also any number of aid workers who have similar views although workers on the ground are much more aware of the likely issues.

The government is moving more slowly on this. Physically removing people from the camp - if they want to leave - is one issue but repatriating them is another. All of these people will need to monitored, many of them for life. The young males will be particularly vulnerable to radicalisation but the young females should not be excluded from this possibility.  Many of them have missed years of schooling. Those who have had some schooling will have had a schooling very much at odds with what is taught here.

The present battle may have been lost but the war has not been lost. We are going to need to be continually vigilant for years to come. Be prepared to help but don't expect to be thanked.

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