UK Aid CREDIT Crown copyright

UK 'Rightfully' Gives Aid To Families Of Foreign Fighters In Syria

Alistair Burt outlined the aid given to spouses and children of foreign fighters in the country.

UK Aid CREDIT Crown copyright

Packages of emergency humanitarian assistance (Picture: Crown Copyright).

Britain "rightfully" provides aid and support to spouses and children of foreign fighters in Syria, according to an international development minister.

Alistair Burt told MPs there is no UK aid provided to those classified as foreign fighters in their camps but outlined support given to women and children in separate camps.

He added more than £40 million has been provided in 2018/19 to address "basic life-saving needs" across areas previously held by so-called Islamic State.

Thousands of people from different nations travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight as jihadists with IS and other groups, including several hundred from the UK.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Burt said: "DFID (Department for International Development) works on the basis of humanitarian need, not on the basis of who controls territory so this also means at present that we're providing assistance to those who have been in Daesh-controlled areas and who are in need.

"So we provide support through governance of areas that have been in opposition control but we're also prepared to provide for needs inside those areas which were under regime control."

US soldier outside Manbij Syria
Around 200 American troops are to remain in Syria on a peacekeeping mission after the rest of its forces are withdrawn (Picture: US Department of Defense).

Mr Burt added: "There's been a lot of focus recently on the camps where those who have been involved in the fighting and who are now, because of the end of the military campaign against Daesh, are now in that small area and moving out of it.

"I think our understanding is this - male foreign fighters are in one camp, spouses and children are in another.

"The United Kingdom does not provide aid to those who are classified as foreign fighters in their camps but we do, and rightfully should, provide aid and support for spouses and children, for women and children who are in the other camp - and we do.

Mr Burt said there are no cash transfers to camps holding spouses and children of foreign fighters.

Shamima Begum
Shamima Begum, who left the UK to travel to Syria, was stripped of her British citizenship (Picture: PA).

Former minister Crispin Blunt asked about the custody of British fighters in the area controlled by the Democratic Federation of northern Syria, adding: "The Government appears to have taken a policy position not to return these British citizens to the United Kingdom so they're going to remain in the charge of the democratic federation authorities for the foreseeable future.

"What help are we giving or are we going to give to best oversee these British citizens now in their charge?"

Mr Burt, in his reply, said any Britons who return from this area will be subject to "UK control" when they come back and Home Secretary Sajid Javid had earlier indicated the "process which has already happened".

He added for those holding Britons who remain in the region will need "resource to handle the legal and judicial consequences", telling MPs that is "under active consideration about how best we make a contribution to that".

Mr Burt earlier told MPs that Britain will commit to spend at least £400 million this year to help those who have suffered at the hands of the Syria conflict.