The sixth event of Fight for Humanity’s webinar series: “Detained children from ISIS-related families: how to protect their rights in North East Syria?”.
On 22 December 2021, more than 60 participants attended the sixth edition of Fight for Humanity’s webinar series “first-hand views on human rights and peace” about the situation of detained children from families of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in North-East Syria (NES). Four panelists discussed the current status of these children and the challenges to their reintegration and repatriation.
More than 700 ISIS-related children are currently detained in the region, and many of their rights are violated: they are facing restrictions on seeing their families, obstacles to their development and access to education, poor health, hygiene, and security conditions, and exposure to radicalized individuals in the detention centres.
Dr. Annyssa Bellal, a senior legal expert and researcher, discussed the legal responsibilities of the actors involved in this multi-faceted and challenging situation. “...human beings have a right to security [in] prisons and cannot be detained arbitrarily…one needs to know when and how [they will] be released.”
Fight for Humanity is currently providing aid to improve their detention conditions; however, it is clear that these children should be not be detained arbitrarily but rather reintegrated into society in the case of detained Syrians and repatriated to their home countries for non-Syrians.
Dr. Abdul Karim Omar, Head of Foreign Affairs Office of the Autonomous Administration of North-East Syria (AANES), explained that his administration faces significant challenges with the detainees and called “all countries to repatriate their own citizens” and further “to support the AANES to help improve the situation of women and children in camps.”
Yet, some countries have decided to fully repatriate their citizens detained in NES. Cholpon Orozobekova, Director at the Bulan Institute for Peace Innovations, spells out what successful repatriation looks like stating, “The experiences of other countries especially Central Asian countries show that repatriation is possible and can be successful…[A] majority of the children go to school now, and most have integrated well and receive good grades.”
Ms. Orozobekova also pointed out a number of challenges she has identified from government officials regarding repatriation; these include the absence of an official consulate in the AANES, the inability to try crimes committed without evidence, and security concerns of repatriations.
Mehmet Balci, Founder and Co-Director of Fight for Humanity, concluded, “ISIS is recruiting using the treatment [within detention centers and camps] as their main argument to reorganize outside the camps—not just inside.” To avoid creating a new generation of terrorists, it is essential to succeed in reintegrating those children. Fight for Humanity will keep advocating for a solution for these children and start psycho-social support as well as recreational and educational activities.
Watch the full recording of the webinar here.