The Iraqi government has handed over to their respective countries 18 children of foreign "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) elements who were killed in battles with the Iraqi army, the government announced on Friday (February 9th).
"The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has so far handed over a total of 17 Chechen children and one French child to their countries after their relatives were located," said Abeer Jalabi, head of the ministry's Women and Child Welfare Authority.
The ministry initiated the return of orphaned ISIS children in batches in early September 2017 in co-operation with UNICEF, the International Red Cross and diplomatic missions, she told Diyaruna.
It is planning to return another group of orphaned children with German citizenship to their country, in co-ordination with the German embassy in Baghdad, she added.
The ministry still retains a number of other children believed to be of foreign ISIS fighters who were either killed in the liberation battles or had carried out suicide attacks, Jalabi said.
"We currently [house] 40 orphaned children between the ages of four and six from former Soviet Union republics, Germany, France and many other countries," she said, adding that "they have been placed in orphanages in Baghdad in accordance with the directives of the Iraqi judiciary".
Orphaned children 'receive full care'
The children are receiving full care, Jalabi said.
"We treat them like the rest of the orphans we are hosting, and provide them with food, clothing, health care and psychological support," she added.
Those children have experienced living in a violent environment, she said, noting that some were even injured during the fighting.
"We consider them victims who must be embraced, according to our religious and humanitarian values and in accordance with our national laws and the international conventions that call for caring for children during conflict and protecting their rights," she said.
"At the same time, we are co-ordinating with the relevant authorities to ensure that all the children who have been placed in our care are safely transferred to their countries," she added.
There are "large numbers of foreign ISIS fighters' children who have been placed with their mothers in detention centres under government supervision", Jalabi said.
These children are under the age of three and need the care of their mothers, who are currently being interrogated and tried, she said.