Category Archives: Children’s rights

‘Mijn vrienden zijn nu in de hemel’ Kindsoldaten van IS

Publicatie: Groene Amsterdammer

Honderden jezidi-jongens werden door IS getraind om voor de terreurgroep te strijden of om zelfmoordaanslagen te plegen. Sommigen wisten te ontsnappen. Zij leven nu in opvangkampen in Noord-Irak, waar de hulp grotendeels ontbreekt.

SNEAKERS, EEN T-SHIRT en een modern kapsel. Op het eerste gezicht lijkt Majdal een doodgewone jongen, maar zo voelt hij zich al lang niet meer. Alles wat stond voor zijn kindertijd werd vernietigd toen Islamitische Staat (IS) in augustus 2014 zijn woonplaats Kocho met geweld binnenstormde. Majdal werd gescheiden van zijn moeder en zussen en naar Raqqa gebracht. Continue reading ‘Mijn vrienden zijn nu in de hemel’ Kindsoldaten van IS

Yazidi boys forced to fight for IS still need psychological help

Publication: Al-Monitor 

DAHUK, Iraqi Kurdistan — Majdal, a 14-year-old Yazidi teenager wearing a T-shirt, jeans and sneakers, looks like an ordinary boy but does not feel like one anymore. His childhood was destroyed when the Islamic State (IS) invaded his hometown Kocho in August 2014. Like other Yazidis, Majdal was separated from his mother and siblings. He was brought to a military camp in Raqqa. “Forget your faith, family and past. From now on, your name is Abu Otman and you are Muslim,” the leader of the camp told Majdal. Continue reading Yazidi boys forced to fight for IS still need psychological help

Sold for $60: Yazidi children describe cruel life as IS slaves

 Publication: Middle East Eye
 DUHOK, Kurdistan Region of Iraq – Umm and Abu Ahmed could not have children of their own. So when the middle-aged Sunni couple from Mosul heard the Islamic State (IS) group was selling Yazidi orphans, they decided to take one in. For $500, they bought five-year-old Ayman.

Abu and Umm bought all kinds of toys for Ayman, changed his name into Ahmed, taught him how to memorise the Quran and enrolled him in a local school. For 18 months, they raised him like he was their own son. Continue reading Sold for $60: Yazidi children describe cruel life as IS slaves

Mosul’s children and the lasting scars of conflict

Publication: The New Arab

MOSUL, Iraq- Mohammed was only 11 years old when he saw how two men were beheaded by Islamic State militants. It was at one of the many IS checkpoints in the city of Mosul, where Mohammed and his friends were hanging out.

“The sword went up. Walk away now, I told myself, but I felt paralysed. After the beheadings, I dizzily walked away, leaned over and puked up my breakfast,” said Mohammed, now 13. Continue reading Mosul’s children and the lasting scars of conflict

De Arabische droom? Gedwongen trouwen in Jordanië

Publicatie: Groene Amsterdammer

HIGHLIGHT: Het aantal kindhuwelijken onder Syrische vluchtelingen is door de oorlog enorm gestegen. Cultureel-religieuze tradities en economische malaise doen ouders besluiten hun dochters uit te huwelijken.

Tientallen Syrische vrouwen drommen voor de afgebladderde deur van de Jordanian Women’s Union. In het vrouwencentrum in Al-Khaldeya, een kleine stad op honderd kilometer van de Jordaanse hoofdstad Amman, worden vandaag hulpgoederen uitgedeeld. De tassen met voornamelijk schoonmaakmiddelen vinden gretig aftrek onder de vluchtelingen; allemaal proberen ze snel een pakket te bemachtigen. ‘Sorry, dit was de laatste’, klinkt het opeens vanuit de deuropening. De vrouwen die mis hebben gegrepen kijken beduusd. Dan worden ze boos. Continue reading De Arabische droom? Gedwongen trouwen in Jordanië

Trouwen op je veertiende

Publicatie: Trouw

HIGHLIGHT: kindhuwelijken | In vluchtelingenkampen in Jordanië huwelijken Syrische ouders hun dochters uit. Uit armoede en uit traditie.

Busra’s toekomstige echtgenoot zag haar voor het eerst toen ze van school naar huis liep door het stoffige vluchtelingenkamp. Zij was 14 en nog nooit verliefd geweest, hij was 22 en op zoek naar een vrouw. Een paar dagen later stond hij voor de deur van de aan elkaar gekoppelde trailers waar Busra en haar familieleden wonen sinds ze de oorlog in Syrië ontvluchtten. Of ze met hem wilde trouwen, was de vraag. Onder druk van haar vader zei Busra ja. Continue reading Trouwen op je veertiende

How this 14-year-old Syrian refugee is fighting to end child marriage

Published: Al-Monitor

PHOTO: BRENDA STOTER
PHOTO: BRENDA STOTER

ZAATARI, Jordan — Omaima Hoshan, 14, wasn’t really aware of early marriage until her best friend dropped out of school in the fifth grade. Omaima was very concerned. Her friend was an excellent student — the best in their class — and had always dreamed about becoming a doctor, so why would she leave school? Omaima learned from the teacher that her friend had married her 18-year-old cousin under pressure from her father. The girl hadn’t even turned 13 yet. Omaima never saw her again.  Continue reading How this 14-year-old Syrian refugee is fighting to end child marriage

Thousands of Syrian refugees in Jordan finally back in school

PHOTO: BRENDA STOTER
PHOTO: BRENDA STOTER

Published: Al-Monitor

IRBID, Jordan — After years of trying to get Mohammed into a public school, his mother Alaa had almost given up. Since the family fled from Syria to Jordan in 2012, Mohammed has received no formal education. Year after year, school directors refused to sign him up Continue reading Thousands of Syrian refugees in Jordan finally back in school

Islamic State’s female bloggers draw European women to Syria

Publication: Al Monitor

AMSTERDAM — When Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a caliphate in June, he called on Muslims around the world to be a part of it. The invitation extended to preachers, engineers, judges, doctors and people with military and administrative experience, basically every Muslim who wanted to play a role in the creation of a new Islamic caliphate, including women.

Initially it was widely believed that young women who were lured to Syria by the Islamists had gone there to provide sexual services to members of the Islamic State (IS). It was later revealed, however, that the women who join IS primarily fulfill traditional roles, such as taking care of the household. Mary, the mother of Vanessa, a 19-year-old Dutch woman who joined IS in August, underlined that women generally have noncombatant roles. Continue reading Islamic State’s female bloggers draw European women to Syria

Iraqi children traumatized by IS violence

PHOTO: Brenda Stoter
PHOTO: Brenda Stoter

Publication: Al-Monitor

ERBIL, Iraq — Mohammed was 5 years old when August 16, 2015his little brother was shot dead before his eyes. This happened in June 2014 when Islamic State (IS) militants stormed the city of Mosul and took over large parts of northern Iraq.

“IS terrorists shot my child because I was a soldier in the Iraqi army,” Mohammed’s father, a skinny man with deep lines in his face Continue reading Iraqi children traumatized by IS violence

Radicalized Western mothers lead children into Islamic State

Publication: Al-Monitor

AMSTERDAM — For Aysha and Luca Opdam’s father, it is still hard to accept that his children, born and raised in the Netherlands, are now living in Syria. In a letter, he describes how his ex-wife radicalized after she devoted her life to Islam around six years ago. After it was made public that Aysha, 7, and Luca, 8, were taken by their mother to join the Islamic State (IS), the letter was published by a local newspaper.

“If my kids — if I ever get them again — become Muslims that would be fine by me. But only at an age when they are able to make their own choices with full awareness,” he wrote on March 22. Continue reading Radicalized Western mothers lead children into Islamic State

Financial burden, risk of violence pressure Syrian girls to marry

Publication: Al-Monitor

MAFRAQ, Jordan — Her first husband was a 46-year-old man from Saudi Arabia who already had two wives. Once every few months, he traveled to Jordan for business, and during these visits he would talk to Fatima’s aunt about marrying another woman. Her aunt told him she had a suitable candidate in mind: her young niece. Initially, the girl’s father didn’t want his daughter to get married at such a young age, but when he found out that the Saudi man was wealthy and religious, he changed his mind.

It wasn’t really up to the bride-to-be to decide whether she wanted to marry this man. As the eldest daughter still living with her parents, she felt like a burden to them. The family had fled Homs to Jordan in 2013 because of the Syrian war, Continue reading Financial burden, risk of violence pressure Syrian girls to marry

Syrian children suffer, adapt to war

Publication: Al-Monitor

REYHANLI, Turkey- Children at a Syrian field hospital near the Turkish border accept the war as the new normal.

Three weeks ago, 15-year-old Mohammed was a normal, healthy boy. Although he lived in a war-torn country, he played with his friends and bought groceries for his mother whenever she asked. One day, he went to the bakery to get some bread for dinner later that night. Suddenly, he heard a big blast, fell to the ground Continue reading Syrian children suffer, adapt to war

Jordanian hospitals manage care for wounded Syrians

Written for Al Monitor

AMMAN- At Al-Jazeera Hospital in Amman, Fatima, 10, cried when she talked about what happened to her right eye, which is covered in bandages. Tears mixed with blood ran down her cheeks and onto her pillow. Continue reading Jordanian hospitals manage care for wounded Syrians

Teenage Syrian refugees wed ‘for protection’

 

A wedding shop in Za’atari. PHOTO: BRENDA STOTER

Za’atari, Jordan – Fatima sits in a beauty salon getting her hair and make-up done by young female refugees. Their pink, white and blue dresses with lots of little fake diamonds are shining in the afternoon sun. Continue reading Teenage Syrian refugees wed ‘for protection’