The children born to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) fighters and their Yazidi sex slaves are some of the latest casualties of the ongoing war in Syria.
In the aftermath of the collapse of IS, Yazidi mothers are faced with a stark choice: abandon their children and return to their community in Iraq or remain in Syrian refugee camps.
A ruling from the Yazidi Supreme Spiritual Council, the highest authority among the ethnic group, last April calling on the community to accept victims of the war, also excludes children born out of IS rape.
The Child Protection House in Syria is now responsible for their care, as Najah Hussein, social worker and supervisor in the orphanage explained during an interview on Tuesday.
The organisation works hard to create protective child-friendly spaces and offer legal counselling to mothers.
During procedures, the centre checks the mothers’ health and well-being before “collecting as much information as possible for the archive,” detailed Hussein. “The mother tells us all the information she has because she hopes to come back to us once more to meet or take the baby.”
At its peak, ISIS captured huge swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq and committed multiple acts of genocide, including the murder or kidnapping of around 10,000 Yazidis.
The centre, which hosts 44 orphans, records the names of the fathers, but officials “know though that the fathers’ provided names are not correct, as mothers told us that fathers did not give them their real names,” relayed Hussein.
Some of the fathers come from Europe and the Gulf and “the children’s features and shapes have clear indications of that,” she added.
The orphans suffer both socially and emotionally, according to the social worker. “Some of the orphans are aggressive, anti-social and refuse to speak to us. Our social workers and the specialist team gradually handle these, and we use different methods and activities to help them out.”
The house tries to develop ideas for future projects to create enough space for the children and to provide them with a healthy environment, but “lack support.”
In Syria alone, UNICEF estimates that there are close to 29,000 children born to foreign fighters, most of them under the age of 12. Some 20,000 children are believed to be from Iraq, while more than 9,000 are from around 60 other countries. An additional 1,000 children of foreign fighters are believed to be in Iraq.
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