By Sarah Wolfe and Cholpon Orozobekova
In 2019 Kazakhstan repatriated 595 citizens from camps and detention centres in Syria through Operation Zhusan. Operation Zhusan was a unique effort among the actions taken by states globally to address the issue of so-called “foreign fighters” remaining in the region. The majority of repatriates brought back over five phases of the Operation were children who returned alone or were accompanied by a smaller number of women, and a limited number of men. Thirty-three men who were repatriated were immediately arrested and charged with terrorism offences, 13 women were also charged with terrorism offences and supporting propaganda. The women and child returnees who did not face criminal charges, who were in the majority, were made the subjects of a rehabilitation and reintegration programme involving a minimum of a month-long stay at a dedicated rehabilitation centre, followed by support in the community which is ongoing. The international community is observing the results in Kazakhstan from a distance, although the long-term outcomes may not be known for many years. The issue of people being held in camps and prisons in Syria by Kurdish forces who are non-state actors is an issue that cannot be ignored indefinitely. The following analysis highlights some of the lessons learned so far from Kazakhstan’s experience of taking a pro-active rights-based approach.
The full version of the analysis is here: Lessons Learned from Kazakhstan’s Experience
 Kazinform, “Zhusan Operation: 595 Kazakhstanis repatriated from Syria”. February 6th, 2020. Accessed May 3rd, 2020: https://www.inform.kz/en/zhusan-operation-595-kazakhstanis-repatriated-from-syria_a3611674
 Yee, Vivian, “Guns, Filth and ISIS: Syrian Camp Is ‘Disaster in the Making’”. New York Times, September 3rd, 2019. Accessed May 3rd, 2020: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/03/world/middleeast/isis-alhol-camp-syria.html