The Speaker
Sunday, 19 May 2024 – 19:17

Fate of Islamic State fighters and their families uncertain

With the liberation of much of the territory previously held by ISIS, the future of those that fought, along with their families, remains uncertain as thousands are held in camps.

In March the last Islamic State stronghold in Baghouz, Syria fell, causing the remaining 1,000 or so fighters to be taken captive by US-backed Syrian Democratic forces, along with their families. According to estimates by the UN Commission for Human Rights, there are around 29,000 children of ISIS fighters,29 percent are under the age of 12, along with 11,000 family members.

These fighters come from over 50 different countries, making it more complicated to try all of them. The diversity of the fighters also complicates things as many countries do not want to get back those that went off to fight for ISIS. Some, like the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, say these people need to stand trial, and the families should get some form of compensation, unless they face prosecution. Bachelet stresses the importance of the children to be taken care of, saying “States should provide the same access to nationality for children born to their nationals in conflict zones as is otherwise applicable. To inflict statelessness on children who have already suffered so much is an act of irresponsible cruelty.”

The UN report states that over 150 men and women have been put to death in Iraq from anti-terrorism laws for being suspected ISIS fighters, but there are still thousands of cases left to sift through. Those that remain are being held in camps in the Syrian town of Al-Hol, where over 73,000 family members of ISIS fighters are being held in extremely poor conditions.

Because of the terrible conditions, there are efforts underway by the the World Health Organization and the International Red Cross to try and remedy the problem, with money from countries like Norway, to train doctors and provide much needed supplies to those suffering.

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