The State Department praised Spain’s efforts to repatriate its citizens from North and East Syria, as the state became the first to repatriate individuals affiliated with ISIS in 2023, bringing two women and 13 children home. Days later, Barbados repatriated a female ISIS member and two children from the camp as well.

The issue of repatriating foreigners from camps and prisons in North and East Syria remains a top priority for both the Autonomous Administration and the United States. Over 42,000 foreigners linked to ISIS remain in camps across the region, according to Human Rights Watch, the vast majority of which are Iraqi. Iraq began repatriating thousands of its citizens, fighters, women, and children alike, in the past year, and on January 14, 2022, resumed repatriations following a suspension of two months, bringing another 853 citizens back to Iraq.

Challenges remain in the repatriation process, both in terms of the speed and the efforts to repatriate by some countries. Many European states have hesitated to repatriate any citizens, and those that do often only take women and children, refusing to repatriate ISIS fighters, of which over 2,000 foreigners remain in AANES-run prisons, constituting a major security threat to the region and world. 

A representative of the Barbados’ government speaks with AANES officials prior to repatriating three Barbadian citizens

Following the Hasakah prison break attempt by ISIS in January, 2022, the United States announced new funding and plans to improve the security of prisons run by the AANES, as well as a renewed push to convince states to repatriate their citizens from the region. The AANES and United States continue to ask countries to repatriate all of their citizens, as indefinite detention in North and East Syria is not a solution according to them.