(Trinidad Guardian) An in­ter­na­tion­al non­prof­it or­gan­i­sa­tion is try­ing des­per­ate­ly to se­cure trav­el doc­u­ments for two T&T both­ers cur­rent­ly strand­ed at a camp for women and chil­dren linked to Isis in Syr­ia.

Mah­mud Fer­reira, 11, and his younger broth­er, Ayyub, 7, are at Camp Roj and are among an es­ti­mat­ed 1,200 for­eign chil­dren strand­ed in Syr­ia since Isis was dri­ven out of Raqqa in Oc­to­ber 2017.

How­ev­er, there is no word from Gov­ern­ment on whether it is sup­port­ing ef­forts by the non­prof­it group Re­prieve, to re­unite the boys with their moth­er, Fe­li­cia Perkins-Fer­reira, who lives in Pe­tit Val­ley.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port in yes­ter­day’s UK Guardian, the boys were tak­en out of the coun­try in 2014 by their fa­ther, a for­mer ISIS fight­er, It is be­lieved that their fa­ther was killed and they were aban­doned on the road­side by their Bel­gian step­moth­er in Turkey. They were picked up by the Kur­dish-Arab Syr­i­an De­mo­c­ra­t­ic Forces and have since been alone in Camp Roj, a home for fam­i­lies of dead or im­pris­oned mil­i­tants. How­ev­er, their lives may be at risk if a planned strike of the city by Turk­ish forces ma­te­ri­alis­es.

There are con­cerns that the boys might now be at risk fol­low­ing the de­ci­sion by US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to with­draw the 2,000 US spe­cial forces who have been pro­vid­ing a buffer be­tween Syr­ia’s Kurds and neigh­bour­ing Turkey. There is an in­creas­ing pos­si­bil­i­ty that Turk­ish pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­doğan may fol­low through on his threat to in­vade north-east Syr­ia.

Con­tact­ed for com­ment on the plight of the broth­ers, Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Min­is­ter Stu­art Young would not con­firm where Gov­ern­ment is tak­ing steps to res­cue the boys. He said it was a mat­ter of na­tion­al se­cu­ri­ty and very sen­si­tive.

“Var­i­ous is­sues are cur­rent­ly at­tract­ing spe­cif­ic at­ten­tion by a mul­ti-agency com­mit­tee put to­geth­er by me, which will make rec­om­men­da­tions to me. The mat­ters are very com­plex and we are work­ing with many in­ter­na­tion­al agen­cies at­tempt­ing to ver­i­fy the ve­rac­i­ty of in­for­ma­tion as a start. At this time there is noth­ing fur­ther that can be said due to the sen­si­tiv­i­ty of the mat­ter,” Young said.

How­ev­er, that stance has been crit­i­cised by Is­lam­ic Front leader Umar Ab­dul­lah who said leav­ing the boys trapped in a con­flict zone is a source of dai­ly trau­ma for their fam­i­ly.

Ab­dul­lah said his or­ga­ni­za­tion has been try­ing to com­mu­ni­cate with T&T na­tion­als strand­ed due to the war and es­ti­mates that there are 30 of them there, most­ly women.

The UK Guardian re­port stat­ed that the boys are trau­ma­tised by their ex­pe­ri­ences but can re­mem­ber their moth­er’s name. Perkins-Fer­reira, who said she had on­ly re­ceived in­ter­mit­tent news of her sobs in the last year said she has suf­fered from pan­ic at­tacks since they were tak­en away by her ex-hus­band.

“When they left, he told me they were go­ing to their grand­moth­er’s house. The next day my sis­ter came and she said he’d gone to Syr­ia … It wasn’t un­til a bit lat­er I felt this empti­ness and broke down cry­ing,” she said.

The re­port quot­ed Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley as say­ing: “We don’t have the ma­chin­ery or the where­with­al to iden­ti­fy peo­ple and bring them back. We have to re­ly on the in­ter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty and the in­for­ma­tion from peo­ple who are in con­tact with their fam­i­lies out there.”

How­ev­er, Ab­dul­lah says there has been no re­al ef­fort by the gov­ern­ment to have T&T na­tion­als re­turned to their fam­i­lies de­spite sev­er­al let­ters sent to the At­tor­ney Gen­er­al’s of­fice and the Min­istry of For­eign and Cari­com Af­fairs.

Mahmud, left, and Ayyub Ferreira photographed in Syria

He said while the Gov­ern­ment claims it does not have the ca­pa­bil­i­ty to iden­ti­fy na­tion­als strand­ed in Syr­ia and Iraq, his or­gan­i­sa­tion had sup­plied in­for­ma­tion to them about a group of Trinida­di­ans that were tak­en from Du­la and Raqqa­by bus to an un­known lo­ca­tion. He said the men were tak­en off the bus and ex­e­cut­ed while the women were thrown in­to prison camps.

Ab­dul­lah said the Iraqi gov­ern­ment is will­ing to repa­tri­ate these pris­on­ers.

While trav­el­ling to Syr­ia and Iraq is frowned up­on, he said that noth­ing is wrong with Mus­lims seek­ing a bet­ter life by mi­grat­ing to a caliphate.

“Gov­ern­ment has al­ways shown a par­tic­u­lar face to the Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ty in Trinidad and To­ba­go, and that has been one of de­cep­tion. They lean on us for sup­port when they go up for elec­tions, but af­ter that sup­port, they do not sup­port us in any way. They know full well what af­fects the Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ty and the atroc­i­ties we face,” he said.

Ab­dul­lah said his or­ga­ni­za­tion is not against refugees and pris­on­ers be­ing in­ves­ti­gat­ed on their re­turn home, but he wants the Gov­ern­ment to make a greater ef­fort.



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