ISIS' territorial hold over the region may be over, but the effects of the group's rule are still being felt across the region.
While the defeat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria is an essential episode in the history of the region, the militant group’s previous rule continues to affect thousands of people who are still facing repercussions.
At its height, the militant group carried out all kinds of atrocities towards the residents of the areas they controlled.
The Yazidi population in Iraq suffered immensely under ISIS control. Upon ISIS invasion of Yazidi villages and towns, the men were executed and the women and children were enslaved. While some of the women and children returned to their homes as ISIS was being defeated, activists say there are at least 3,000 remaining women and children whose fate is unknown as of this moment.
Furthermore, the militant group left behind thousands of women and children who have been brainwashed during their time as “ISIS family members.”
While many of them have denounced the militant group’s ideology, some continue to believe that the militant group is on the right path and that they will return to power.
Since the defeat of ISIS in Syria’s eastern Deir ez-Zour Province, these children and women have been taken to a special section in al-Hawl Refugee Camp. However, according to the UN, conditions in the camp are extremely poor due to overpopulation and a lack of aid. As a result, many of the children born in the camp to ISIS wives end up suffering from various diseases, malnutrition, incomplete growth and other illnesses.
While these issues can eventually be solved, the fate of these women and children remains a lot more complicated and uncertain. The international community has not yet provided a solution for families of ISIS members. Many countries are reluctant to take back ISIS wives and children, due to public pressure to keep them in refugee camps; however, countries like Tunisia proposed that brainwashed individuals are brought back, rehabilitated and then reintegrated into society.
Security authorities who have these women and children under their jurisdiction say their countries cannot continue to provide for them. With no solution given yet by other countries, the fate of these women and children remains uncertain, reflecting the horrible legacy that ISIS has left behind it in the region.