28,000 foreign children remain trapped in NE Syria: UN

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UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 19 (Xinhua) -- Nearly 28,000 foreign children from over 60 countries remain trapped in northeast Syria, largely in displacement camps, said a UN spokesman on Tuesday.

Some 80 percent of those children are under the age of 12, and half of them are under five. The majority of them, about 20,000, are from Iraq, said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, citing the United Natioins Children's Fund (UNICEF).

At least 17 countries have also already repatriated at least 650 children from the region, he said.

"The UN commends the leadership of the countries that have repatriated civilians. Their actions, and UNICEF's long experience of supporting children, families and communities impacted by armed conflict around the world, show us that where there is a will, there is a way," he told a daily press briefing.

It is imperative for member states to take responsibility for children who are their citizens or born of their nationals, and to take measures to prevent children from becoming stateless, he said.

In line with the best interests of the child and in compliance with international standards, governments should ensure the safe, dignified and voluntary repatriation of foreign children back to their countries of origin. The preservation of family unity and the principle of non-refoulement are also critical for protecting children, said Dujarric.

The United Nations urges all member states to find durable solutions for all their nationals living in displacement camps in Syria, through repatriation, reintegration or prosecution, as appropriate, in line with international law, he said. Enditem

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