Al Jazeera

UK denies passport to Syria aid couple’s baby

A British aid worker based in northern Syria says he has been denied a UK passport for his baby daughter and says that sustained harassment by the security services has left him feeling he has “no home to go to”.

Tauqir Sharif has worked in Syria since 2012. [Photo: Aid Convoy]

Tauqir Sharif has worked in Syria since 2012. [Photo: Aid Convoy]

Tauqir Sharif, who works with his British wife in a refugee camp near the Turkish border, says that British officials’ failure to grant his 17-month-old daughter a passport has effectively stranded her in Syria, and potentially placed the family in greater danger by making it harder for them to escape if fighting breaks out.

“She’s not English, she’s not Syrian, in effect she is stateless. If we need to get out of Syria we can’t go through an official crossing. We have to be smuggled out, and face being shot by Turkish soldiers,” Sharif told Al Jazeera.

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Al Jazeera

Aid effort for Syria suffers as UK authorities put squeeze on charities and volunteers

London, England — British authorities are harassing and obstructing individuals and Islamic charities delivering life-saving supplies to Syria, even as the government leads tributes to a British taxi driver murdered by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) after joining an aid convoy to the country

Alan Henning, who was the only non-Muslim member of a group of volunteers travelling into Syria when he was abducted last December, has been widely lauded as a humanitarian hero in the days since he became the fourth western hostage to be killed in a series of ISIL beheading videos.

David Cameron, the British prime minister, described Henning as “a kind, gentle, caring and compassionate man who had simply gone to help others”, while Nick Clegg, the deputy PM, called him “a man moved to selflessly help those most in need”.

Yet Muslim volunteers travelling to Syria for the same reasons, including Henning’s friends and companions, say they have faced suspicion, questioning and the threat of arrest on their return to the UK, while charities say their efforts to raise money and deliver ambulances and aid are being disrupted.

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Al Jazeera

Syrian aid volunteers face warzone dangers and risk of arrest

London, United Kingdom  British volunteers delivering aid and ambulances to Syria face the double danger of being attacked by regime forces and arrested on suspicion of terrorism on their return home because of irresponsible comments by public officials linking them to jihadist groups, representatives of Muslim charities have warned.

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Ambulances driven by volunteers from the UK to Syria arrive at their destination in the rebel-held north. [World Aid Convoy]

Convoys largely funded by donations from Muslim communities in the UK have been departing regularly for Syria since the conflict began in 2011. The vehicles, driven by volunteers, are usually ambulances loaded with medical supplies, food packs and other aid, which are donated to hospitals in the rebel-held north.

But charities running the convoys are coming under increased scrutiny amid widely reported claims that Britons intent on fighting have used them as cover to travel to Syria, and that some have attended “terrorist training camps” with a view to carrying out attacks in the UK.

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