Human Rights

Yazidi Captives Return To Iraq For The First Time In 5 Years

Iraq

Hundreds of Yazidi women and children who were captured by ISIS and taken to Syria during the height of the terrorist group's rule have been able to escape and reunite with their families.

With tears of joys and smiles, Yazidi children who were kidnapped by ISIS from their homes in 2014 have finally returned to their families in Iraq. A young man, Milad Hussein, was returned to his family in Sinjar to a grandmother who hopes that her grandson still remembers her face and name.

The young Yazidi child was able to escape ISIS’ grip after the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) launched operations against the militant group’s last enclave in Syria’s eastern Deir ez-Zour Province.

Due to the large number of civilians trapped in Baghouz, the SDF halted operations for two weeks to allow people to escape Baghouz. Amongst those who fled the city were dozens of Yazidi children and women.

According to children who successfully escaped ISIS’ grip, they were kidnapped from their homes and taken to various cities in Iraq. After the Iraqi Security Forces successfully defeated ISIS in Iraq in December 2017, the kidnapped children were moved to the city of Albu Kamal on the Syrian-Iraqi border and then later moved to the city of Baghouz.

With the liberation operations against ISIS ensuing in Baghouz, Yazidi families in Iraq hope that they can finally know the fate of their loved ones who were taken in 2014.

Since the launch of operations in Baghouz, 15 Yazidi women and children were liberated from the militant group and taken back to their families in Iraq.

However, the SDF also discovered a mass grave containing the bodies of 50 Yazidis outside of the city.

While the reuniting of Yazidi families with their children is seen a positive step towards healing the scars of war, many say that Yazidi children who were liberated from ISIS are in need of rehabilitation as many of them were forced to join the militant group’s “Cubs of the Caliphate” and have been brainwashed by ISIS.

To deradicalise those who have been affected by this issue, several civil society organisations have founded centres throughout Iraq and Syria, which attempts to deradicalise and rehabilitate young men and women who have been influenced by ISIS’ ideology before being returned to their families.

While the issue remains complex, Yazidi families can now know the fate of their loved ones who were kidnapped by the militant group.