Aid & Development

Centre in northern Syria seeks to rehabilitate children of ISIS


A rehabilitation centre has been created in Northern Syria in order to rehabilitate children whose families were involved with ISIS. Many of these kids have been traumatised by their experiences and are in need of professional help

After the defeat of ISIS in Iraq and most of Syria, the two countries came face-to-face with another problem that they must deal with: what will happen to the hundreds of children that ISIS has left behind?

During their 4-year reign, ISIS members married and sexually-abused women, with many conceiving children. Other militants who already had children forced their children into ISIS’ indoctrination program known as the ‘Cubs of the Caliphate’.

When the militant group was defeated, many tribes and families took advantage of the instability to take revenge on ISIS’ families for the mistakes that their fathers and brothers had committed. Some children were rejected from their tribes and areas because of their relative’s affiliation with the militant group.

As a result, in Iraq, the government created a special refugee camp for ISIS families to protect them from acts of revenge while carrying out background checks to make sure that they are not part of the group nor hold their ideology.

In the self-administrated Kurdish region in northern Syria, known as Rojava, authorities have established a centre that is responsible for rehabilitating the children of ISIS.

The kids in this centre are given lessons on ethics and discipline which seek to undo the ideology that was forced into them by ISIS, along with general courses in language and careers choices. As the children are prohibited from using the internet or mobile phones, they spend most of their time either taking lessons or playing sports.

“I want to practice sports again, which is what I like the most, especially volleyball,” said one of the children currently being rehabilitated at the centre.

The children aged 12-17 are traumatised by their experiences and need psychological help as they have witnessed their fathers and family members committing atrocities such as amputations and beheadings. “I did not live my childhood,” says one of the children.

Many hope that this centre and others like it will go some way in rehabilitating and alleviating the pain and trauma experienced by these children whose only sin was being born into an ISIS family.