It seems like a very long time in the past that we fought the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, often known as ISIS). The world has moved on to different issues because the navy defeat of this terrorist group in March 2019. But the challenges related to ISIL are removed from over. In addition to the persevering with international risk of terrorism, one of many key points is what to do with detained ISIL troopers, their households, and those who joined the group on the peak of its energy.
For one motive or one other, roughly 40,000 individuals travelled to the areas managed by the group from 81 international locations. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) captured hundreds of overseas fighters and their households. In January this 12 months, SDF mentioned it held round 2,000 overseas fighters and 13,000 overseas ladies and kids who’re relations of ISIL-linked fighters.
The query now’s what to do with these people. Whereas many international locations, together with these within the West, have hesitated to repatriate their residents, Kazakhstan has taken a really totally different strategy. Our nation carried out operations “Zhusan” and “Rusafa”, as a part of which round 700 of our residents have been introduced residence, together with 520 youngsters. The others are principally ladies. Twenty-five males who have been introduced again have been prosecuted as ISIL fighters. Our effort relies on humanitarian grounds. Many ladies and kids have been stranded with out entry to primary wants, together with meals, shelter, clear water, well being and schooling. They have been uncovered to sexual abuse, exploitation and potential recruitment by terrorist teams.
Bringing again people who have been as soon as a part of ISIL can definitely carry safety dangers. Nonetheless, lots of the ladies have been deceived by ISIL propaganda, then held towards their will. Some have been merely naive. Crucially, the kids had no alternative on this matter, and it’s due to this fact morally and politically proper to offer them one other likelihood. It is for that reason that the primary president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, made the choice to repatriate our residents from Syria and Iraq. This coverage has continued below the present President, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
Repatriating our residents has solely been half the battle. It has been simply as essential to make sure their rehabilitation and reintegration into society. Our state-run rehabilitation programme has been designed to supply psychological well being care, household assist, housing, schooling and job alternatives. Kids of ISIL fighters have been given Kazakh start certificates and Kazakh names, whereas ladies have been issued clear passports and paperwork to scale back social stigmatisation and facilitate their integration into society. Lodging was initially supplied in specifically created adaptation centres. They included round the clock assist from social staff, psychologists, lecturers, theologians and medical staff. A lot of the youngsters spoke Arabic, so we concerned Arabic language specialists to ascertain contact. To assist the kids combine into society, particular person studying programmes have been developed with the involvement of lecturers, who supplied lessons in arithmetic, languages, and different topics.
This stage of rehabilitation lasted for a month, after which the households have been transferred to the place of residence of their kinfolk and pals. An essential a part of the rehabilitation programme was dedicated to restoring household ties. The preliminary rehabilitation stage enabled youngsters to begin college with different pupils, whereas youthful youngsters joined preschool schooling centres and kindergartens. The households have additionally been provided stationery, clothes and meals provides, whereas they get again on their ft. General, greater than 300 specialists have been concerned throughout the nation. In addition to giving households and kids a second likelihood, we consider that this coverage will contribute to stopping radicalisation and violent extremism in Kazakhstan, as many households publicly spoke in regards to the horrors they witnessed in Syria below ISIL rule. Our hope is that this may deter others from wanting to affix terrorist organisations.
Now we have definitely confronted challenges alongside the best way. Some youngsters have struggled to readjust. Some kinfolk and pals of people who joined ISIL determined to chop all ties with them, hampering reintegration efforts. Nonetheless, we consider that the choice to repatriate our residents has been vindicated and we’re pleased with the work that has been carried out, together with with the assist of UNICEF, the Worldwide Committee of the Purple Cross, the US and different companions. The US State Division, for instance, has been extremely appreciative of Kazakhstan’s repatriation efforts, and performs an essential function in helping Kazakh authorities with delivering efficient rehabilitation.
Sadly, many households from different international locations are nonetheless left stranded in Syria and Iraq. The authorities in these international locations would not have sufficient sources to maintain ISIL prisoners and their households in captivity indefinitely, particularly through the coronavirus pandemic. Different international locations ought to due to this fact examine Kazakhstan’s expertise and take into account repatriating their residents as effectively.
The views expressed on this article are the writer’s personal and don’t essentially replicate Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.