RAN Issue paper: Child returnees from conflict zones

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Lambert, Sharon
Lynch, Orla
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Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) Centre of Excellence, EU
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This paper looks at ways to respond – from a practitioner's perspective - to the situation of children returning to Europe having either been born or travelled to Daesh held territories in Syria/Iraq as well as non-European children travelling from Daesh territory to Europe as a result of forced displacement. Estimating the number of children who have travelled from Europe to Iraq and Syria is difficult; estimates for individual countries vary from 24 to 70. Another unknown is the actual number of children born (or yet to be born) in Syria or Iraq to European parents. According to reports from the UN Security Council, these children are being used by Daesh to carry weapons, guard strategic locations, arrest civilians and serve as suicide bombers. Furthermore, children are particularly vulnerable to indoctrination, turning them into loyal supporters for terrorist organisations. These children suffer, both due to the violence they witness/participate in, but also due to the fact that their normal social, moral, emotional and cognitive development is interrupted and corrupted by the experience of war. In addition, in the aftermath of the conflict these children are at risk of exposure to additional trauma due to the experience of (forced) migration and the resettlement process. Exposure to multiple and repeated traumas represents a significant risk to children’s development and overall functioning and increases the risk of physical and mental disorders in the future. The paper gives an overview of the challenges that prevention practitioners and social services face in terms of dealing with childhood trauma, understanding involvement in violence by child returnees, lessons from other arenas, risk and resilient factors, identifying and working with children at risk, the role of the family and the contagion effect.
Trauma , Informed care , Trauma and development , Daesh , Syria , Iraq , Child soldiers , Child returnees
Lynch, O. and Lambert, S. (2016) RAN Issue paper: Child returnees from conflict zones, Brussels: Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) Centre of Excellence, EU. Available online: https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/what-we-do/networks/radicalisation_awareness_network/ran-papers_en
© 2018 the authors; RAN Centre of Excellence