Small Wars Journal

The Kids of the Islamic State

Mon, 06/03/2019 - 9:27pm

The Kids of the Islamic State by Robin Wright - Foreign Policy

The collapse of the Islamic State’s caliphate in March produced an unanticipated humanitarian crisis for tens of thousands of children now detained in a desolate camp outside the city of al-Hol in northeast Syria. They were an unanticipated byproduct of the U.S.-backed campaign against the jihadi extremist movement. Some 9,000 Islamic State fighters were captured in Syria and are now dispersed in local prisons. But another 73,000 Islamic State family members also either surrendered or were captured in the final months of the five-year war. Today, more than 90 percent of the residents in the al-Hol camp are women and children.

Data on the Islamic State offspring is staggering: 65 percent of the residents of al-Hol are under the age of 12, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported on May 29. More than 20,000 residents are under the age of 5, meaning they were born after the Islamic State swept across Syria and Iraq in 2014 to create the caliphate. “Distribution data suggests that there may be as many as 3,000 unaccompanied and separated children in al-Hol, some of them also taking care of siblings,” the U.N. agency reported. Hundreds appear to be orphans because both parents died in the fighting, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross. A major problem is the poor education or outright illiteracy among the children. Roughly 11,000 of the kids aged 6 to 18 have not been exposed to learning for at least five years, the U.N. report said…

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