The United Nations (UN) calls for more action from Maldives on reintegration and rehabilitation of its citizens in Syria, especially the women and children in various Syrian camps and the young men in detention centers or facilities.
In a press conference held at the Maagiri Hotel on Tuesday afternoon, Fionnnuala Ní Aoláin, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism presented her findings from her ten day trip to Maldives. She noted Maldives' efforts in repatriation of a family from Syria and called for more action for the remainder of the victims, as well as the repatriated family.
It is believed over 50 Maldivians are in Syrian camps, particularly Al Hol and Roj camps in North-East Syria and other conflict zones.
"The urgent repatriation of these citizens is a necessity for the government. The vast majority of them are children, most of them under the age of ten," she said.
Ní Aoláin noted that they live in inhumane conditions with limited access to safe water, food, or any basic education or healthcare. She describe them to be in situations of torture.
She noted the establishment of National Rehabilitation Center (NRC) which she said allows for a legal framework to reintegrate victims back to society lawfully. However, as it is a detention center, she expressed concern over the long-term detention of such individuals, especially children.
Currently, a family of four, including children, are in the NRC. They had returned from Syria.
She stressed on the importance of providing rehabilitation methods that does not lead to long-term detention and called to repatriate the rest of the families in Syria.
"Maldives has a unique opportunity to be a global leader on this issue. Many countries have not made the kind of political commitments that we have seen. Many governments have not put in place the kind of measures, legal and structural, to address the initial return," Ní Aoláin said.
"And that offers the Maldives the unique opportunity to address what is a regional, and global security and humanitarian and human rights catastrophe occurring in North-East Syria."
Other areas presented in her findings include the legal framework of Maldives to assess and deal with terrorism, countering terrorism finance, and the obstacles faced by civic societies in Maldives. Ní Aoláin said mandate presented at today's press conference will be available soon online. However a full report will be published in March 2023.
During the trip Ní Aoláin visited Male' NRC, Dhoonidhoo custodial prison, Maafushi prison, including its Special Management Unit. Additionally she had met with local teachers, lawyers, civil society organisations, activists, and the UN Country Team as well.