In a corner of a teeming refugee camp, 40 miles north of Raqqa, a small group of women and children are kept alone. They mill together at the back of a blue building; blond and brown haired children darting in between blankets that their mothers have hung as doors across small, dank rooms. Others in the Ain Issa camp call them “the Daeshis”, meaning Islamic State families. No one wants to know them.Hardly surprising!
International aid agencies and governments are scrambling to assess the numbers of widows and orphans now thought to be at extreme risk, both within their societies and at the hands of predatory local officials.
“No one will deal with them, or even touch them,” said Ahmed al-Raqqawi, a 25-year-old anti-Isis fighter in the centre of Raqqa.
“When they were here, they used to think they were kings. Even the women.”Well, most likely, they thought they were queens...!
“The women who chose to leave the UK and go there need to be responsible for what they did. They will not be coming home,” said a British official.
“The children, though, deserve compassion.”Do they? Why? Why take the risk? Even the French are well aware of the dangers they may pose:
On Friday, France appeared to flag an advance in its position, with the defence minister, Florence Parly, announcing on French radio that the children of its dead nationals may be taken in, but not their mothers.
“Children who are in local custody can, depending on their parents’ preference, either stay with them while their parents get tried locally, or be repatriated to France, where they will be cared for by social services. They are usually very young, but they can have been radicalised and need to be watched. The challenge for us is to turn them into citizens again,” said Parly.Is it a challenge worth taking? I don't think so.