European Children of parents associated with ISIS

Refugee illustration photo


Statement from the Board of Research and Implementation of the Children and War Foundation

As members of the Children and War Foundation’s Board of Implementation and Research we represent more than a hundred years of clinical and research experience working with children who experience war and disaster situations.

It is with great concern we witness the reluctance of many European countries to take responsibility for the children of mothers who left their respective European country to join ISIS. Using political and judicial reasons to refrain from their responsibility, the different governments leave young children to live under circumstances that threaten their lives and physical and psychological development. These children need a secure and stable environment more than others, due to the horrors and unfathomable situations they have lived through. They are currently detained in refugee camps that put their health, lives and future at great risk. The children are citizens of different European countries, yet they are left to suffer conditions that are depriving them of almost all the nourishment that a child needs to grow up to be a functioning member of society. It leaves them open to indoctrination and form a breeding ground for the development of hate that may manifest itself in a high terror-potential later in life.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). In their speeches, politicians often talk about how children are the future. When they comment on conflicts like the Syrian war, they are appalled by what happens to children. Yet, in this situation, they hide behind their words and let the children suffer for their parents’ mistakes. This is inhumane. In the CRC article 39 reads, States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to promote physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration of a child victim of: any form of neglect, exploitation, or abuse; torture or any other form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; or armed conflicts. Such recovery and reintegration shall take place in an environment which fosters the health, self-respect and dignity of the child.

When a child is a citizen of a European country, politicians have a legal obligation to heed this and other articles, and fulfill the rights derived from the convention. The children’s human rights are being violated on a daily basis in the refugee camps they are currently detained in. It is the country of which they are citizens, that can put an end to their sufferings by evacuating them and providing them with necessary care and help. Some countries have taken their responsibility and brought their citizens home. This must be followed by all European nations.

Children’s repatriation needs to be realized together with their caretakers (mainly mothers). If the mothers have to serve time in prison, child protection services and the legal system in their country of origin must use their experience and knowledge to handle this to secure children’s needs and rights. Contact between the child and caregiver must be upheld when parents serve time in prison. The child will need to maintain its attachment bond to the primary caregiver in order to adjust to and profit from health care, rehabilitation and a new life.

The Children and War Foundation strongly recommends that European nations take responsibility for their child citizens (and their mothers) currently detained in different camps and areas following the ISIS breakdown. These children must be repatriated to their home country.

Child refugees/victims of the Syrian war – the broader perspective

Although this statement first and foremost addresses the responsibility of European countries to repatriate their children born under the ISIS reign, we do not only advocate a “take care of your own” approach. The situation for all children in the camps in the area is documented to be so grave, that political courage and action is needed to deal with it. If we do not better the horrible situation of child refugees or internally displaced children, we are laying the foundation stones for further generations of war and conflict. Through all our years of experience we have seen that violence and inhumane conditions leave craters inside human minds. We can help prevent this by bettering the conditions of children and their families in refugee camps, by bringing children back to their home countries, and most of all by stopping the war and violence they are exposed to.

We endorse the November statement of EFPA that Action is required to protect children in refugee camps


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