Children of ISIS: Stuck in Legal Limbo

December 17, 2017 at 11:13 am

Families flee Isis controlled Hawijah and arrive at Peshmerga positions (Kirkuk, Feb 2017) Photo by: KirkukNow

Karwan Salhi

The Islamic State (ISIS) militants have left behind hundreds of children in Iraq with no identifications and their surviving families are facing an uncertain future.

Halawa Omar, 28, the surviving wife of her cousin, an ISIS militant from Hawijah with two children that are struggling in a camp in Kirkuk province, “I didn’t want to marry my cousin, he had no job and got into trouble and drank alcohol,” Halawa not her real name said. “Then Daesh came in 2014 and everything changed, my cousin became Daesh and one night in late 2014, he came with a Daesh force wearing balaclava and took me away.”

Halawa lived in a village around two kilometers outside Hawijah, a district 55 Kilometres south-east of Kirkuk, “ My cousin threatened to kill my father and my brothers, that night he took me to one of his friend’s house and the following morning I was pronounced his wife in a Daesh court forcefully.” In late 2016, she was informed that her husband had died in a US-led coalition airstrike. Shortly afterwards, Halawa picked up her two children Abubakir and Omar and walked for 25 Kilometres with a group of other people and reached the Peshmerga positions and from there they were sent to a camp outside Kirkuk.

A camp for families of ISIS militants in Kirkuk protected by security forces (October 2017) Photo by: KirkukNow

“My children have no identification documents and I don’t Know what to do,” Halawa said. According to the Iraqi law, the father of children should be known and if he is still not alive, two witnesses need to testify on his behalf. No one is prepared to testify for Halawa in the camp near Kirkuk and she does not know what has happened to her father and relatives.

“In Mosul alone, there are around 1000 children whose fathers were Daesh and killed and now they have no ID cards,” said Sakina Mohammad Ali, who heads a committee, overseeing the welfare of these children. “The Iraqi government needs to find a solution for this problem.”

According to data provided by this committee, there are 600 children in Hamam al-Alil camp; in an orphanage in Mosul, there are 55; in Hasan Sham camp, there are 25 and in Qayyarah camp, there are 200 children all of whom are from Mosul. The data does not cover Tal Afar, Namrood and west Mosul. The Americans have a camp for the children and families of Daesh militants, Sakina said.

A copy of a birth certificate issued by ISIS in Mosul (May 2016)

Marwa Hares, 39, not her real name, whose husband was executed in Hawijah by ISIS for being a member of the Sunni Awakening Council, was forced to marry an ISIS militant later. She has two children from her first husband who have ID cards but her only child from her ISIS husband has no ID. No one is prepared to testify for her.

Abu Zulaikha, Marwa’s husband was killed in an internal ISIS clash in 2016 in Al-Shirqat and then she fled to Kirkuk and now lives in a camp in Kirkuk.

Jwan Hassan, the head of human rights committee in Kirkuk provincial council says that ISIS has created a “big problem” for Iraq and there is no attempt to resolve the issue of these children anytime soon. “The parliament needs to pass a law to resolve this issue but it is negligent and we don’t have a children ministry to resolve this issue either.”

“According to our data, there are around 3,000 children from Daesh families who are stuck in this limbo and living in camps.”

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