ISIS has caused severe social problems and ruptures due to the force the terrorist group employed in enslaving Yazidi women, with whom many militants had children.
Despite the defeat of ISIS in Iraq, reminders of ISIS’ rule still haunts many Yazidi women who were forced to marry and bear children from ISIS militants. Due to the customs and traditions within the Yazidi faith, children whose fathers were ISIS militants have not always been accepted into the local community, while others have been forcibly separated from their mothers. This has caused much distress to many mothers who say that their children are at no fault.
“I told my family that I was alive, so they paid the ransom,” said Um Bassam, a Yazidi woman who was enslaved by ISIS. “However, when I told them that the father of my son is an ISIS militant, they refused to bring my child with me.”
As a result of this dilemma, many Yazidi women have left their children in camps set in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). Many of them were promised that their children would then be taken to orphanages across the region.
The lack of enough orphanages in the KRI has resulted in some children being taken to an orphanage in the town of Rmelan in eastern Syria. One of the founders of the orphanage says that although it first opened in 2015 to house children who lost their families during the Syrian Conflict, their work has expanded to include children born to ISIS militants.
“In 2017, the situation changed as we received many children whose mothers are Yazidis,” said one of the founders.
This orphanage is not alone in caring for children of ISIS in the region. In northern Syria, Kurdish groups established centres to rehabilitate children of ISIS, and those that were brainwashed by the militant group. During ISIS’ rule, many of the children were forced to join the Cubs of the Caliphate, ISIS’ child soldier wing. As a result, many of them have been psychologically affected by the horrors that they have witnessed. Now that the group is defeated, communities across the region are afraid to take them in without proper rehabilitation.
Due to the attitudes that communities have against these children, the region now faces an orphan and child crisis. With many children separated from their mothers and treated as outcasts, governments and international organisations must place further efforts in rehabilitating and including these children within the community, as it has created a humanitarian crisis and constitutes a security threat in the future if left intact.