Forgotten victims: ISIS children deprived of education, documentation

HAWIJA, Iraq — Almost five years following the fall of the ISIS caliphate in Iraq, the children of the extremist militants remain the victims as they are deprived of their basic rights and education.

The town of Hawija, 75 kilometers west of Kirkuk, was a hub for ISIS militants as they ruled the city for more than three years, between 2014 and 2017.

Although the town is now empty of ISIS militants, the effects of the extremists are still evident. There used to be a lot of militants marrying women from Hawija and its surrounding areas.

There were ongoing conflicts at the time, yet the militants continued to practice marriage, leaving behind hundreds of children according to local NGOs.

As a result of the marriage, the children remain victims. During an interview with Zoom News reporter Rokan Jaff in Kirkuk, a woman said she gave birth to three children to an ISIS militant who was killed during the war.

She was arrested by Iraqi security forces a year after her husband passed away. She said she can’t issue ID cards for her children because her husband joined ISIS militants in the past.

“My husband joined ISIS. Following his death, I stayed in Mosul. After a while, I tried to return to Hawija. On my way back to Hawija, I was arrested by the security forces on charges of ties with ISIS. I was later released due to a lack of evidence,” said the ISIS widower.

“My name remains on the list of terror names to this day. That’s why I cannot issue an ID card for my children. Neither my family nor my tribe accept me. No one is helping me.”

Local human rights organizations handle cases of children whose fathers were ISIS members. As of now, Hiwa has registered more than 1,000 children who are denied an ID card.

Srud Mohammed is the head of the Hiwa organization. She told Zoom News that the children are still unable to obtain an ID card. There is a problem facing women married to ISIS fighters during their rule who are uncertain where their husbands are.

“It is a bit better for those who have been arrested by the government. The problem primarily affects women whose husbands have not been arrested. These problems are common and must be resolved. The more these cases are open, the more ISIS ideology is promoted,” said Mohammed.

Due to a lack of IDs, children are deprived of education. As they do not receive proper care from the government, they end up working on the streets.

Iraqi law prevents ISIS children from obtaining ID cards. According to the country’s Civil Code, the child’s parents must provide documents when issuing IDs for their children. And children in Iraq are registered under their father’s name.

Since some of the ISIS fighters were not Iraqis, their children are now forbidden from getting IDs.

Hazhar Kakayi is a lawyer. He said the Iraqi Interior Ministry approved a decree that said paperwork should not be processed “until the wanted militants surrender to authorities.”

There was an attempt a few months ago to resolve the issue which suggested that the children be registered under their mother’s name.

However, fear of the consequences prevented the law from being amended, leaving the children’s future in the dark.

 

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