John Doe

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Mary Taylor

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Islamic State’s Children, Abandoned and Afraid: The Hard Life of Surviving Children of IS-Linked Families in Northeast Syria

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Rome – Many children under 12 years of age. They were too young to think they played an active role in ISIS. Yet many governments are reluctant to repatriate them for fear of undermining national security or fearing a public backlash. Many of these minors have now been living in camps for five years, held in appalling conditions with nothing to do, leaving them vulnerable to violence or recruitment by Islamic State forces. After a series of visits to the fields, Human Rights Watch He deplores that the despair of these young children is so obvious that in some cases it manifests itself in suicidal instincts. Read more Reporting Mondo Solidale Sui from Damascus “Children saved” from war.

Security issues. Governments are unwilling to repatriate them, although the UN And counterterrorism experts have stressed that in many cases keeping these children in camps, abandoning them, poses greater risks to national security than bringing them home. However, excluding Iraq, which has so far repatriated 2,850 minors, thirty-five governments have brought home a total of only 1,600, and twenty-three thousand remain in camps. Canada returned only four. Save the Children warns that at this rate it will take thirty years to free all the children trapped in northeast Syria.

History. In March 2019, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish-led regional force backed by the US-led military coalition, overthrew the remnants of a self-proclaimed “caliphate” in northeastern Syria, imprisoning thousands of ISIS family members. They were also taken to temporary detention centers. According to HRW estimates, as of January 23, 2023, nearly 42,000 foreigners and 23,000 Syrians are detained in the region. 37,000 of these are the women and children of men suspected of links to ISIS and all of them are held in the largest camps in the area: Al-Hol and Roj.

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Nationalities. Nearly twenty-seven thousand prisoners in the camps are from Iraq, and another ten thousand are from sixty different countries. More than 60 percent of those arrested were children and 80 percent of them were under the age of 12. 30 percent are under 5 years of age. Neither children nor detained adults are brought before judicial authorities. Arbitrary detention based solely on family ties amounts to a form of collective punishment, a war crime, to which governments are complicit when they refuse to continue repatriation.

Children’s status. Young people in the camps live in very inhumane conditions, their detention can be compared to torture. The camps lack medical aid, clean water, education and access to play. According to Kurdish Red Crescent, at least 371 children died of easily treatable diseases or hypothermia in Al-Hol in 2019. Others drowned in sewage ditches, caught fire in tents or were run over by water trucks. Many of the children suffer from asthma, possibly due to fumes from the oil fields near the camp, but they cannot be treated due to a lack of oxygen and medicine.

Assaults and Assaults. The camps have become increasingly dangerous and violent, with inmates, including many IS loyalists, carrying out regular attacks on other inmates, camp officials and aid workers. According to United Nations estimates, 90 people were killed in al-Hol in 2021 and 42 between January and mid-November 2022. In November 2022, two Egyptian sisters under the age of 15 were found dead in a sewer in Al-Hol. He raped her and stabbed her. Mothers were interviewed Human Rights Watch They hid their children in tents to protect them from sexual abuse. The words of a Canadian mother detained at Camp Rose are symbolic: “When we were under the Islamic State, we had to find a safe place to protect our children from bombs. Now we have to find a safe place to protect them from the others in the camps.” Last spring your son tried to hang himself with a rope.

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Condition of prisons. Conditions are even worse in prisons and temporary detention centers where the SDF holds 1,000 prisoners, many of whom are housed in cells with boys under the age of 12 and adult men. In January 2022, ISIS attacked a seven-hundred-person prison in the city of Al-Hasakah, triggering a ten-day war with the SDF. More than 500 people died, including many children. As foreign boys approach puberty, they are taken from the fields where they live with their mothers to so-called “rehabilitation centers” or prisons where men are held by guards. Often they are taken without warning, the mothers don’t know, and many are as young as 10 or 12. Generally, Syrian families are allowed to visit their loved ones, but foreign families are not.

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