By: Abdullah Alkhalaf
Abdullah (pseudonym) went back to his grandmother crying to complain about him being bullied by his peers in the neighborhood. They were calling him out “Daeshi … Daeshi”. Abdullah is seven years old, and his only guilt is that he was born into a family of a Syrian mother and an Arab fighter father who joined Islamic State “Daesh-ISIS” years ago in Syria.
This child is not aware of the reason why the other children are bullying him. He is only a child like them who only wants to play and have fun with them. His parents died in the International Alliance shelling during the ISIS expel battle from Raqqa in 2017, and he has no one left for him except his grandmother who is taking care of him.
His grandmother states that she does not know anyone from his father’s family to communicate with them asking for assistance in supporting and upbringing the child. He has not yet enrolled in school as he does not carry any identification documents. She adds “so many of the neighbors perceive us badly because I am taking care of my daughter’s child who was married to one of the ISIS fighters. They instruct their children not to play with him as he is “a Daeshi’s son”. This speech kills me inside and it hurts him, and he is only a child with no guilt”.
The grandmother states that she has tried to register Abdullah under one of his uncles’ names (from his mother side) so that he could join the school, but it was rejected in fear of security pursuit. She adds “I do not know what to do to bring up this child; he does not have documents and he is not recognized by the authorities. His future is ambiguous, and I do not know what will happen to him nor how he will live”.
Article 2 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, or sex”. Also, Article 6 states that “everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law”. However, the Syrian law discriminates based on gender in granting the right to citizenship in which it deprives the Syrian woman married to a foreigner from granting citizenship to her children. Under Article 3 paragraph (A) of Syrian citizenship law, which came effective in 1969 under Legislative Decree 276, granting citizenship is only limited to males and a few other cases.
The Article states that “the following shall be considered Syrian Arab Ipso facto: (A) Anyone born inside or outside the country to a Syrian Arab father, (B) Anyone born in the country to a Syrian Arab mother and to an unknown father. (C) Anyone born in the country to unknown parents or to parents of unknown nationality or without one” and other cases.
Recently, the Syrian President declared a legislation concerned with unknown parents’ children. This is to prepare a supportive environment to bring up and educate them and to give them all rights with no discrimination from others by establishing what is called “Life Melody Homes” to take care of them. This decree came to complement 1969 legislation and to regulate care for these children.
In terms of whether Syrian women’s children can benefit from this decree and obtain the citizenship, the Former Judge, Mohammad Aldaeil, states “in case the woman does not know the real name or nationality of the father, she has the right to prosecute him to grant the Syrian citizenship to her child”. However, he adds that it is still not easy due to the security circumstances and the fear of women to go to Syrian State-held areas to file a case, and the fear of getting detained with accusation related to terrorism. He adds “these security obstacles are not only limited to Syria; this matter includes other countries if the husband, for example, is from the Gulf or Arab Maghreb Countries. You would find that his relatives mostly will not provide support to the wives nor children in fear of security pursuit”.
CSOs are seeking temporary solutions in cooperation with tribal leaders, activists, and legal figures for assisting women married to foreigners and have children, particularly those returnees from Al-Hol Camp in Al-Hasakah to re-integrate them.
Oxygen Youth Organization formed a committee to solve conflict in Raqqa in 2021. The committee provides relief, social, and legal services as well as solving problems related to families returning from Al-Hol Camp to Raqqa.
Aldaeil is one of the committee members. He states that they sought to solve the issue related to identification documents through issuing temporary resident cards by the Autonomous Administration of NES. “These documents facilitate children’s enrollment in schools, obtaining assistance from organizations; and they facilitate their remaining matters in NES areas”.
There are not official statistics of the number of Syrian women’s children from ISIS foreign fighters. However, according to the Conflict Solving Committee, 14 women with 33 children of “immigrant” fathers have been accessed only in Raqqa City to provide them services along with their children.
According to Oxygen Youth Organization, the actual number is much higher as many women are afraid of disclosing the information. It is worth mentioning that during the preparation of this material, we have communicated with several women who completely refused to speak about this issue due to security concerns. According to Raqqa Civil Council, around 900 families returned to Raqqa from Al-Hol Camp between 2018 and 2021 who their number of children is 3000.
In Northwest Syria, the “Who is your Husband” campaign was launched by Syrian activists to calculate number of children born into Syrian women and members of Jihadist groups members and to raise awareness of the consequences of these marriages. The campaign documented 1735 cases, particularly in the areas controlled by HTS. This number of 1735 includes 1424 women who delivered birth to 1826 children.
Despite that “everyone has the right to a nationality” and “no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality” according to Article 15 in Universal Declaration of Human Rights, these children still do not own any of these rights which makes their future vague.
 Adjective of ISIS as someone described to be belonging to this group.