Three Sydney mayors will meet with Home Secretary Claire O’Neil to voice their opposition to the repatriation of Australian women and children of Islamic State fighters in the city’s southwest.
Liverpool Mayor Ned Mannoun says the resettlement of IS families in western Sydney could re-traumatize recently arrived refugees such as Yazidis and Assyrians fleeing IS violence from Iraq and Syria.
“You wouldn’t put a crime victim next to the perpetrator or the person who is an accomplice to the perpetrator,” Cr Mannoun told AAP.
“If the government is obliged to bring them into the country, then that’s fine, but common sense says that you don’t put these people in these neighborhoods.
“I’ve consulted members of my community and they say it’s insane.”
Four Australian women who have been in the al-Roj camp in Syria since the fall of Islamic State, along with 13 children, arrived in Sydney last month following a sting operation.
Cr Mannoun, Fairfield Mayor Frank Carbone and Campbelltown Mayor George Greiss are expected to receive a safety briefing Friday from Ms. O’Neill.
The meeting comes after the three wrote a letter to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese outlining their concerns.
“We don’t want to politicize the matter, but this is eroding social cohesion and the beautiful tapestry of Western Sydney,” said Cr Mannoun.
He said hundreds of IS family members could be resettled in the three culturally diverse local government areas in question and he is concerned about whether refugees living there will feel safe.
“Wherever the refugees fleeing ISIS from Iraq and Syria settled, just don’t put them close by, put them at a distance from them.
“Let’s minimize interaction with the people who have fled. Let’s have some humanity for them and for the trauma these people went through.”
Islamic State emerged from the political vacuum left in Iraq and the civil war in Syria that proclaimed a “caliphate” in 2014 and ruled with an iron fist over vast areas between the two countries.
It attracted thousands of foreign fighters, including dozens of Australians, who, according to the United Nations, committed atrocities and genocidal acts in some cases against the Gnostic-worshipping Yazidis and Christian Assyrians.
Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw confirmed on Tuesday that the force was investigating whether the repatriated Australians had broken laws prohibiting travel to certain war zones, including Syria.
He said the 17 returned women and children, who have settled in Victoria and NSW, have been cooperating with police.
The government says surveillances and restrictions will help reduce any potential threat of extremism from the returned women and children.