Children of Austrian Daesh member to be repatriated from Syria

DAILY SABAH
ANKARA
Published 28.08.2019 00:05
Updated 28.08.2019 10:45

The children of an Austrian citizen and member of the terrorist organization Daesh will be repatriated to Austria and given to their grandmother. For the first time, it was decided by Austrian courts that the Daesh supporter's two children be repatriated after DNA tests, Austrian Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Peter Guschelbauer stated.

It is assumed that the Austrian citizen lost her life in Syria after joining the terrorist organization in 2014 when she was only 15. Her two children, aged 1 and 3, are currently at the al-Hol refugee camp in northern Syria. "We have decided to bring back the two orphans, and preparations have started," said Guschelbauer, adding that the process could take some weeks and that at least three further children are being considered for repatriation in the near future.

Previously, France and Belgium had accepted a number of Daesh member children that were their own citizens. Similarly, the U.S. had repatriated an American woman with four children while Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kosovo have also accepted dozens of women and children. Turkey has also been going through processes of repatriating the children of Daesh members. In May, it was announced by officials of both countries and UNICEF that over 188 children of suspected Daesh members were handed over to Turkey in the presence of the government.

The nongovernmental organization (NGO), German humanitarian group Medico International has called for Germany to take back the children of Daesh terrorists that were German citizens, warning that 117 children face the risk of being radicalized. According to Medico International, 70,000 people live in the al-Hol camp, which is under the control of the PKK's Syrian affiliate, the People's Protection Units (YPG), despite the camp's capacity being just 20,000. A section within the camp, however, is separated for the 10,000 women from 70 different countries, who were part of Daesh. Medico stressed that the condition of most of these women is unknown.

Upon this, Germany started to repatriate children, and the number of children brought back in the week before reached four on Aug. 19. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas indicated that the government is working on the repatriation of more children under critical conditions. The number of repatriated children to Germany has reached 12 since March. According to the Rojava Information Center, an independent volunteer-staffed NGO based in northeast Syria, there are 117 German citizens in Syria, 21 of whom are children. Furthermore, the number of German adult males that are members of Daesh is 66, some 44 of which are estimated to have been involved in war crimes.

The international community has been fighting Daesh for years, but this bloody group has remained undefeated with its militias. By 2018, a total of 7,366 foreign fighters returned to their home countries or appear to be in the process of repatriation. Although Daesh is mostly defeated, dealing with the children of foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq is posing a dilemma for governments in their home countries. Many of the foreign fighters and their families are in prison or special camps in Iraq and Syria.

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