For at least four years, thousands of children have been growing up in a camp in northeast Syria housing families of Islamic State group militants, raised in an atmosphere where the group’s radical ideology still circulates and where they have almost no chance for an education.
Fearing that a new generation of militants will emerge from al-Hol Camp, the Kurdish officials who govern eastern and northern Syria are experimenting with a rehabilitation program aimed at pulling children out of extremist thought.
It means, however, removing them from their mothers and families for an unknown period of time, a practice that has raised concerns among rights groups. And even if they are deemed rehabilitated, the childrens’ future remains in limbo with their home countries reluctant to take them back.
“If these children stay in the camp, this will lead to the rise of a new generation of extremists who could be more fanatic(al) than those who were before,” said Khaled Remo, co-chair of the Kurdish-led administration’s office of justice and reform affairs.
Recently, an Associated Press team was allowed to visit the Orkesh Center, a rehabilitation facility that opened late last year. It’s home to dozens of young boys taken from al-Hol. Ranging in age between 11 and 18, they represent about 15 different nationalities, including France and Germany.
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