Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Sajid Javid criticised after IS bride Shamima Begum's baby boy dies

Home Secretary Sajid Javid is facing criticism following the death of Islamic State bride Shamima Begum's baby.

The boy, named Jarrah, died on Thursday after suffering breathing difficulties and a lung infection.

The teenager was stripped of her British citizenship by Mr Javid last month, meaning she was not allowed to return to the country of her birth, but the home secretary did acknowledge Jarrah was a British citizen.

  • ITV News Political Correspondent Romilly Weeks reports that the Government is looking like it has "no coherent strategy" on the issue of Shamima Begum and others who left the UK to join so-called Islamic State.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott criticised Mr Javid's decision to revoke Ms Begum's citizenship, tweeting: "It is against international law to make someone stateless, and now an innocent child has died as a result of a British woman being stripped of her citizenship.

"This is callous and inhumane."

In a later tweet Ms Abbott said Mr Javid had "behaved shamefully" and said the death could have been avoided.

Diane Abbott has made her feelings known. Credit: PA

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Ed Davey said the boy will be remembered if courts rule that Mr Javid acted “illegally in making a British citizen stateless”.

“Many of us feared this tragic outcome when the Home Secretary washed his hands of Britain’s responsibility for a British citizen and a British baby,” he added.

Kirsty McNeill, a director at Save the Children UK, urged Britain to “take responsibility for their citizens” in Syria.

“It is possible the death of this baby boy and others could have been avoided,” she added.

Sorry, this content isn't available on your device.

Jarrah was taken to a doctor in the refugee camp where he and his mother were living, and was then transferred to a hospital where he later died.

Ms Begum, 19, gave birth to her son in Al-Hol refugee camp in the middle of February, having already lost two children.

The teenager's IS fighter husband, Yago Riedijk, 27, is being held in a Kurdish-run detention centre in northern Syria.

Ms Begum and her baby had been held in Al-Hol after fleeing the town of Baghouz, the last remaining area held by so-called Islamic State as the caliphate crumbles.

Shamima Begum fled Baghous to Al-Hol refugee camp. Credit: ITV News

However, last week it was reported that Ms Begum and Jarrah had been moved from the camp in the north of Syria to another closer to the Iraqi border after the pair were "threatened" by others in the camp, her family's lawyer said.

After giving numerous interviews to UK media following her discovery in Al-Hol by a journalist from The Times, Ms Begum said she regretted speaking to the media and wished she had kept a low profile.

It was reported that Ms Begum was moved to a different camp as she had received death threats from others in Al-Hol after speaking out about her plight.

The SDF is an alliance of Kurdish, Arab and Assyrian/Syriac militias who are fighting to get rid of the last vestiges of so-called Islamic State's caliphate.

Shamima Begum was 15 when she ran away from home in London to Syria. Credit: PA

Ms Begum was 15 when in February 2015, she and two school friends - Amira Abase, 15, and Kadiza Sultana, 16 - ran away from home in Bethnal Green, east London to join so-called Islamic State.

The three girls travelled to Turkey before crossing the border into Syria.

She resurfaced heavily-pregnant in a refugee camp in northern Syria last month and spoke of her desire to return to the UK, as the self-styled caliphate collapsed.

On February 17, her family announced the boy's birth and said they believed he was "in good health".

Mr Javid stripped Ms Begum of her British citizenship amid a fierce national debate over whether she should be allowed to return.

Her family, who pledged to appeal against the decision, also wrote to Mr Javid pleading with him to allow a safe passage for the boy to come to the UK.

Shamima Begum before catching a flight from London in 2015 to join the Islamic State group Credit: Met Police/PA

Last month, Mr Javid confirmed the boy was a British citizen and said he had considered the child's interest when deciding to revoke Ms Begum's citizenship.

Asked at the time whether there was any plan for Ms Begum's son, Mr Javid told the Commons Home Affairs Committee it would be "incredibly difficult" for the Government to facilitate the return of a child from Syria since there is no British consular presence in Syria.

"If it is possible somehow for a British child to be brought to a place where there is a British consular presence, the closest place - it might be Turkey for example - in those circumstances I guess potentially it is possible to arrange for some sort of help with the consent of the parent," he added.

"Inside Syria, whether in a camp or maybe somewhere else, there is no British consular presence."

Responding to the news of the death of Ms Begum's son, the Home Office said: “The death of any child is tragic and deeply distressing for the family.

“The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has consistently advised against travel to Syria since April 2011.

“The Government will continue to do whatever we can to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism and travelling to dangerous conflict zones.”