After Isis, Yazidi women forced to leave their children behind

Oct 18, 2020 by

by Martin Chulov, Guardian:

As bombs crunched into the ground around them in February last year, three young Yazidi women cowered in holes dug in the eastern Syrian desert, cradling their terrified children.

In the month that followed, hundreds of people hiding near them were killed by devastating barrages that destroyed what was left of Islamic State’s so-called caliphate and freed the former slaves and their toddlers from five years in the terror group’s clutches.

But the ordeal of their lives was yet to begin. The trio, then aged 19, 20 and 24, and their five toddlers were thrown onto the last lorry out of the town of Baghouz, the black banners of the extremists replaced by the white flags of surrender, and driven to al-Hawl refugee camp where tens of thousands of people from towns and cities seized from Isis were being interned.

The women lay low in the camp, worried about being discovered by Kurdish guards who would identify them as former captives and separate them from other detainees. For a month they lived with a dilemma: being identified could deliver freedom, but it could bring a greater heartache than the horrors under Isis – being separated from their children, maybe for ever.

For Yazidi women who gave birth to children of Isis fighters, those worst fears have now been realised. Their communities in Iraq have demanded they leave their children in Syria before they are accepted home. The forced separations have led to dozens of women being estranged from their children, some of whom they were told to hand over as soon as they gave birth.

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