France, which has referred to those who entered the ISIS jihad as “enemies” of the nation who should face trial in Iraq or Syria, has refused to support back fighters and their wives. The repatriation of children born to French townsmen who travelled to Syria to join the Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist bring is not an option for now, France’s junior interior minister Laurent Nuñez said on Wednesday. “The SDF [Syrian Representative Forces] have said that the children should stay with their natives, and so their return is not being considered for now,” Mr Nuñez told lawmakers.
“The babies are for the most part being held alongside their parents, with their female parents at least. The question of their return is not an issue at present,” he insisted. “ISIS teenagers are just like any other child, but have suffered major trauma.”
French President Emmanuel Macron copied his minister’s position later on Wednesday, telling a press conference in Nairobi that the adolescents of ISIS militants would be repatriated on a “case-by-case basis”.
French regulation policy has been to refuse to take back fighters and their troubles, who the interior ministry has branded “enemies” of the state.
The fate of jihadi laddies is a headache for many European nations whose citizens travelled to associate with ISIS at the height of its success and now wish to return.
But their suffering was carried to light last week by the death of the infant son of Shamima Begum, a British young man who left London to join her militant husband in Syria. The 19-year-old enrol ined ISIS when she was just 15.
Her three-week-old son Jarrah died of pneumonia, according to a medical certificate.
Ms Begum, whose victory two children also died, was stripped of her British citizenship last month on safeguarding grounds after she was discovered in a detention camp in Syria.
The decision to strike the jihadi bride’s passport was heavily criticised following her son’s death and the UK has since been urged to do uncountable to protect the children of British terrorists.
But the fate of Ms Begum has illustrated the moral, legal and security dilemmas that governments face when sell with the families of militants who joined the religious war against the West.
In France, counsels representing the families of ISIS fighters launched an online petition earlier this week line for the return of their children.
“No child chose to be born in Syria or marry Daesh [ISIS]. They are victims of the choices of adults. They are, fully simply, war victims,” said lawyers Marie Dosé and Henri Leclerc.
“These adolescents will become ticking time bombs if France persists in its turn-down to repatriate them,” they warned. Some 4,000 people had registered their petition by Thursday afternoon.
On Monday, the head of the United States children’s agency UNICEF said there were about 3,000 girls from 43 countries living in camps in north-east Syria, along with varied more Syrian and Iraqi children, in “extremely dire conditions”.
“Since January 1, 2019, every apart day, a child has died fleeing the fight against ISIS,” UNICEF crisis Geert Cappelaere told a news conference in Beirut.
“We estimate that end to 3,000 children of foreign nationality are living in extremely dire shapes,” he said.
“There are many more children of Syrian and Iraqi begetters, unfortunately with the same ISIS label, many of them childish than six years old. These are children, not terrorists. These are children licensed to a childhood, deserving a fair chance in life.”