The CSS Blog Network

Rehabilitating the Children of ISIS: A Comparative Case Study of Armed Groups and Child Soldier Reintegration

Image courtesy of Dominique Pineiro/DVIDS

This article was originally published by the Small Wars Journal on 6 March 2019.

Introduction

The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) routinely kidnaps, recruits, and employs child soldiers to carry out its operations. In recent years, ISIS possessed major land holdings in Syria and Iraq, and has carried influence on a global scale; however, the overwhelming international military response to ISIS’ brutality has largely driven this terrorist organization out of its formerly held territories. As ISIS members are displaced through battlefield losses, reintegration of former ISIS members remains a key challenge globally. ISIS has frequently used children as a part of its military operations, and hundreds of these children have been indoctrinated into ISIS ideology. The international community now faces a critical issue with the rehabilitation of ISIS children. This population was raised in a hyper-violent environment and has largely never been exposed or integrated into conventional society. As these children and their families flee to non-ISIS controlled areas or home countries, they pose a lifelong terrorism threat to the international community.

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How Are the World’s Children Doing?

Children have the right to learn, photo: D Sharon Pruitt/flickr

A UNICEF report titled “The Children Left Behind”, to be released today, examines the level of inequality in the education, well-being and health of children in the world’s richest countries. The countries with the least inequality were the usual lot: Iceland, Finland, the Netherlands and Norway.

While Finland, for example, tops the list in terms of having the most equal education system, it fares less well on the health front. Despite free and healthy school meals, Finnish media decried, Finnish children are still not eating enough vegetables and fruit. Switzerland, somewhat unsurprisingly, tops the list as the country with the highest level of material well-being for kids. While Canadian authorities and media reacted with shock at how badly off Canadian children are in terms of material well-being and health, the US ranks even far below its northern neighbor (near the bottom of 24 OECD countries under scrutiny). This should ruffle some feathers in the US and show how vulnerable children in particular are to societal inequality. Sadly, given the intensely polarized political environment, this important report is likely to get buried under a myriad of apparently much more urgent policy concerns.

Yet, the US, like any other wealthy nation not only owes its children a good standard of living from a moral standpoint, but also has to provide it in order to compete in tomorrow’s increasingly crowded knowledge economy in which a pool of healthy, smart and motivated young people is a prerequisite for success. Inequality, ill-health and resentment will hamper growth and make countries less dynamic and less competitive, regardless of their relative ranking in the world today. » More

The Power of Photography: Refugees and The Global Rubbish Problem

Sceernshot of Boston Globe and Guardian slideshows

Sceenshot of Boston Globe / Guardian slideshows: Displaced children chasing a truck spraying insecticide through a UNHCR refugee camp in Pakistan / A child swimming in the polluted waters in Cilincing, Indonesia.

Two very different issues, two powerful slideshows.

Slideshows like this tend to remind you of the power of photography- the way a photograph can say so much, awaken so many senses, give rise to so many ideas, sadness, anger, joy, curiosity, and eventually action.

We wanted to share both with you:

  • The Guardian recently ran a slideshow titled ‘World’s poor overwhelmed by rubbish‘. From mountains of rubbish in Naples and New Orleans to desolate scenes of rivers of rubbish in the Philippines and Indonesia.
  • The Boston Globe’s Alan Taylor put together a slideshow titled ‘Children in Pakistan‘ depicting the plight of those caught in the middle of the Taliban-Pakistan battles in the Swat valley and in refugee camps.