What About the Camp Followers – and their Children?

Ian MacVicar


UN Security Council Resolution 2396 (2017) on Foreign Terrorist Fighters (Returnees and Relocators) urges nations to improve information and evidence sharing while developing tailored prosecution, rehabilitation and reintegration strategies; including programs addressing radicalization in children associated with “Foreign Terrorist Fighters.” The need for such programs has gained urgency since the collapse of Islamic State (IS)/Daesh, with the detainment of IS family members in overcrowded camps in Syria, and their uncertain fate following the Turkish military Operation PEACE SPRING, in October 2019. Approximately 2 million children underwent Daesh indoctrination June 2014 – 2019, and this process continues to be led by women in many detention camps. The heightened sense of vulnerability to terrorist attacks in Western nations has led many nations to refuse the return of children to their home country, or initial entry - fearing that their past radicalization will lead to future terrorism. Such decisions contravene, among other instruments, the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), Convention on Refugees (1951), Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness (1961), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC 1989), and the Optional Protocol to the CRC on Children in Armed Conflict (OPAC, 2000). This paper examines emotional traumas experienced by Daesh “camp followers,” particularly the children, and the psychological rehabilitation and social reintegration challenges they face as they grow to adulthood. This paper argues that the psychosocial support needed for rehabilitation and reintegration is better found in Western societies than in refugee camps, which are often incubators for future terrorists.


Children; Daesh; Deradicalization; International Law; Islamic State; Psychosocial; Radicalization; Trauma

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