British citizens in Syria are not someone else’s problem – but our government seeks to abandon them

The government is pushing through a bill that means it doesn’t have to tell people if their citizenship has been stripped. It sets a terrifying precedent, writes Bel Trew

Sunday 21 November 2021 15:44
<p>Activists say children are being unjustly punished by the UK government</p>

Activists say children are being unjustly punished by the UK government

The family of Sara, a British mother held in a detention camp in northeast Syria, only found out by chance that her citizenship had been stripped, over a year after it had happened. She told me no one from the government contacted her or any of her relatives to inform her of a decision that would alter her life forever. They only found out because one of her relatives checked and was given the damning news.

I met Sara in Roj, a sprawling camp in northeast Syria that is holding foreigners with connections to the so-called Islamic State. They all lived under the caliphate; Sara said she followed her husband to Raqqa.

She is not the only person held there to accidentally discover they are no longer British. A grandmother from the north of England – known in her legal case as D4 – who lives in the same detention camp only found out over a year later because her lawyers tried to arrange her repatriation. They were told that this was impossible as she was no longer British.

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