By Dr Rumyana van Ark (TCM Asser Institute and International Centre for Counter-Terrorism at ICCT –The Hague), Dr Faith Gordon Lecturer in Criminology (Monash University) and Dr Devyani Prabhat, Reader in Law (University of Bristol Law School).
Children are often the hidden victims in adult-dominated conflicts. This appears to be particularly the case when citizens of other states travel to an area of on-going conflict in order to participate and/or support a side in the conflict. As evidence relating to foreign fighters supportive of ISIS demonstrates, the decisions of the parents have significantly affected the position of their children who either travelled with them or were born there. Such children number in the many thousands. While the documented numbers are already high, commentators note that it is likely that these figures do not represent the full reality. The statistics may be omitting those children recently born in or currently residing in besieged, and almost impossible to access, areas. These estimated figures are also unlikely to include those who have not had their births properly recorded, those of whom the authorities have lost track, and those who were unknown to the authorities in the first instance. (more…)