Human Rights

The Children of ISIS Between International Rejection and Unknown Fate

Syria

Children left behind by ISIS militants are stranded in tents for internally displaced persons (IDP) living in wretched conditions.

During the expansion and consolidation of ISIS rule in large parts of Syria between 2014-2017, thousands of women were forcibly married to ISIS militants and bore children whose fathers have either been killed or arrested on account of their links to terrorism.

A large number of these women and children are now living in IDP camps in treacherous conditions and with no official identification or paperwork. Most of the children have been named according to the nicknames given to the ISIS militant fathers who bore them and this is causes problem with regards to their official registration. This is also preventing the children from attending school.

The authorities in Raqqa have stated that this unbearable situation of being forced to marry and have children whom they are struggling to look after has led to numerous suicide attempts. Indeed, the conditions in some of these camps are in some cases deplorable and there have been reports of hundreds of children dying as a result.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director Henrietta Fore had released a statement earlier this year pinpointing the grave issues facing abandoned children in Syria and had called for the protection of the rights of children who have been born by ISIS militants.

A large proportion of these abandoned children are currently at the al-Hol IDP in north-eastern Syria managed by elements of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria.

The case of children born by ISIS militants has been complicated by the matter of separating those children that were directly indoctrinated and militarily trained by ISIS and those who were simply left behind and unaffected by terrorist activities. The rehabilitation and classification of these children require different approaches.

There are also thousands of children in Syria and in Iraq born to foreign ISIS militants. Many of these are being deported to their respective countries of origin.

In addition, some of the women who were married to ISIS militants have committed crimes in al-Hol camp as they continue to propagandise ISIS and terrorise innocent civilians despite the disbanding of the group in Syria.