Read the Australian family’s powerful words after the 17-year-old schoolboy died after years in prison in Syria – after his father forced him to reflect: ‘He didn’t have to die’
- Yusuf Zahab grew up in Sydney and was brought to Syria at the age of 111
- The 17-year-old’s family was informed of his death on Sunday
- “Yusuf didn’t have to die,” said his heartbroken, angry local relatives
An Australian teenager is trapped inside Syria died after several years in prison.
17-year-old Yusuf Zahab’s family were notified of his death Sunday, Human Rights Watch said.
Yusuf grew up in Sydney and traveled to Syria with his family in 2015 at the age of 11.
The teenager was last heard from in January 2022, sending a call for help during an emergency call IS Siege of Al-Sina’a prison in the city of al-Hasakah.
His cause of death has not yet been determined.
In a statement, Yusuf’s family said they were “heartbroken and angry.”
“Yusuf didn’t have to die. The previous Australian government had known of Yusuf’s predicament for more than three years,” the statement said.
“We are not aware of any efforts to assist, mentor, or ask about him.”
“His family is still unlawfully detained in Syria awaiting repatriation.”
Yusuf Zahab’s death should come as no surprise to the Australian government, which has “outsourced responsibility” for its nationals held in Syria, said Letta Tayler, Human Rights Watch’s Crisis and Conflict Associate.
“His death should prompt these countries to urgently bring their imprisoned citizens home,” she said.
“How many more prisoners will die before countries bring their nationals home?”
Between 69 and 80 Australians, including 19 women and 29 children, are reportedly being held by Syrian forces as ISIS suspects.
Yusuf’s family appealed to the Albanian government to repatriate the remaining Australians.
“Other Australian children will also die if immediate action is not taken,” they said.
“Please act before another life is lost.”