Nineveh Prepares to Accept Thousands of ISIS Members

02/16/2020 Iraq (International Christian Concern) –  A lawmaker in Iraq’s Nineveh Governorate announced that plans are well underway to establish a new camp in the NE part of the province which would house approximately 31,400 ISIS members from Syria’s al-Hol camp. Most of these individuals are the wives and children of ISIS fighters. Seven months earlier, Iraq’s Federal Government had denied that they were preparing to move these members to a camp near Mosul. This latest announcement would put these ISIS members closer to Sinjar.

Syria’s al-Hol camp has several underlying issues which have been unresolved for months. Management of the camp is difficult because of the stretched security resources caused by the Syrian conflict, and exacerbated by Turkey’s invasion into northern Syria. The camp is composed mostly of wives and children, several of whom hold foreign nationalities, but the international community has failed to take responsibility for them. In some case, they are stripped of their citizenship. The cost of maintaining the camp is also a challenge given Syria’s environment.

The decision to relocate so many families from al-Hol Camp into Iraq, whose security situation is only slightly better than Syria, creates a significant risk. Choosing to relocate these ISIS members to Nineveh—the homeland of the religious minorities which ISIS had targeted for genocide—creates additional concerns. It would hinder the confidence of Christians and Yazidis to return to their homes following displacement, and create a new set of security problems that could further their abandonment of Iraq.

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