- ALDE Group
- Child returnees: managing the return of European children from jihadist conflict zones
Child returnees: managing the return of European children from jihadist conflict zones
With ISIS losing ground in Syria and Iraq, the number of individuals travelling back to Europe after having spent time in a jihadist conflict zone is expected to rise. Some of these returnees are children: children who had come to a jihadist conflict zone by choice; children who were brought there by one or both of their parents; and children who were born there with EU parents. By the age of nine, these children are likely to have been recruited by jihadist groups, indoctrinated with jihadist teaching material, probably received training in using weapons and making explosives and may have participated in acts of violence such as executions. On the one hand, children are particularly vulnerable to indoctrination turning them into loyal supporters of terrorist organisations; on the other hand, these children suffer both due to the violence they witness or participate in and because their normal social, moral and emotional development is interrupted by the experience of war.
This seminar intends to answer the question: How are European countries managing the return of European children from jihadist conflict zones? These children are both a security threat and a reintegration challenge to European societies. A key challenge will be to develop a multidisciplinary response to address both the security and the welfare/child protection aspects relating to child returnees. This seminar aims to provide guidance to Member States on how to respond to child returnees and serve as a platform for the exchange of views/best practices between different authorities and stakeholders in this matter.
The security challenge posed by child returnees
What risk do these children actually pose?
Reintegrating child returnees into western society
Finding an approach