Do not wait any longer to bring IS children back from the Kurdish camps. Otherwise, they will fall into the hands of IS and end up as jihad fighters, warns Ad Corten, initiator of Platform Children back from the Caliphate.
In 2019, the party congress in D66 passed a resolution calling on the party to bring IS children back from Syria. The CDA Congress did the same last year. Despite these calls, both parties’ parliamentary groups have so far not taken initiatives to get the children back. D66 and CU asked the relevant ministers questions about the situation of Dutch children in Syria last week. They were not asked to actively pick up the children and their mothers.
In December 2021, both parties agreed on a coalition agreement with the agreement that the policy regarding so-called travelers should not be changed. This means that the women and children will not be taken back unless the judge threatens to stop the prosecution against the women.
Contacts with both parties show that they are currently reluctant to plead for active withdrawal for fear of being accused by the VVD of failing to comply with the coalition agreement. Peace with the coalition partner is more important to both parties than the fate of the approximately 60 Dutch children who have been in Kurdish camps for more than three years. The consideration is apparently that the children are taken back with time and that they have been in the camps for so long that a year or so makes no difference.
In fact, a few more years in the camps make a huge difference. In February, the Dutch government withdrew five women from Syria because the judge had otherwise threatened to stop the criminal case against them. Their eleven children were found to be severely traumatized on arrival in the Netherlands. It did not get better as they were separated from their mothers after their arrival.
Their condition turned out to be so bad that they could not go to their expectant foster parents, but that they had to be run at a youth institution where they still are, barely 3 months later. The hope, however, is that the children, now on average 5-6 years old, will still be able to grow up to normal Dutch children.
That does not apply to the remaining 60 children if we leave them in Syria for a few more years. They will be increasingly influenced by the IS ideology in the camps, which means that the chance of successful integration in the Netherlands is getting smaller and smaller.
At present, there are still a total of 7,300 children from Western countries in Kurdish camps. Some European countries such as Germany, Belgium, Finland, Sweden and Denmark have already opted for the active repatriation of their wives and children.
The Kurds can not stop monitoring indefinitely
Even Russia has already taken back hundreds of children. Other countries, such as France and England, still do not want to hear about repatriation. These are countries that have suffered from IS attacks, and where the population has a great aversion to everything that has to do with IS.
But in the end, all women and children must return to their own land; the Kurds can not maintain the surveillance of the camps indefinitely. In January, there was a major attack by IS fighters on a Kurdish prison where fellow fighters were imprisoned. At least one hundred underage boys were ‘liberated’ by IS. If we do not pick up the remaining children quickly, there is a good chance that they too will fall into the hands of IS.
European countries look at each other to see who is starting to remember. Until now, the Netherlands has said that active recall would lead to diplomatic problems with our neighboring countries. Now that these neighboring countries have begun to recall themselves, that argument has been dropped.
If the Netherlands also decides to actively recapture, it will increase the pressure on France and England to give up their opposition to it. And a final solution to the problem could be in sight.
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