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Yazidi council rescinds decision to accept children of IS slaves as Yazidi

Iraqi Yazidi women and children rescued from IS wait to be transported to Iraq [AFP/Getty]

Date of publication: 28 April, 2019

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The Yazidi Supreme Spiritual Council has back-pedalled from its earlier decision to accept children of rape into their community after an internal backlash.

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Yazidi, IS, Iraq.
The Yazidi Spiritual Council issued a statement on Saturday revoking its earlier decision to welcome children of Yazidi women raped by Islamic State group members. It will only accept children born to parents both of Yazidi origin.

The reversal, issued three days after its earlier decision, followed a negative backlash from within the small ethno-religious community.

Thousands of women and girls were forced into sexual slavery when IS attacked Yazidi communities in northwestern Iraq. Hundreds of Yazidi women who gave birth to children in captivity now find themselves in a difficult position.

The Wednesday Yazidi Supreme Spiritual Council decree gave hope to some Yazidi women who feared they would have to leave their children behind in order to return to their communities.

Some 3,000 Yazidis are still missing. Many of the children enslaved by militants in 2014 were separated from their parents and given to IS families for rearing. Boys were pressed into the militants' cub scouts, given military training, and indoctrinated in jihadi ideology.

US-backed Kurdish forces defeated the last fragments of the IS group's self-styled 'caliphate' in Syria in March, raising the possibility that thousands of missing Yazidi women and children might be found and reunited with their families.The Yazidi community has accepted back children born to both Yazidi parents, writes Elisabeth Tsurkov for The Forum for Regional Thinking, "but struggles to accomodate the children born of rape".

In-depth: Why Iraq's courts aren't recognising IS crimes against the Yazidis

Officials at the Beit Yazidi foundation in Kurdish-administered northeast Syria said Yazidi women with children who could have returned to Iraq were choosing to stay in Syria instead, in order not to be separated from their children.

Other women gave their young ones up for adoption to find acceptance among their community.

The community sent two representatives to search for Yazidi women and children in the camps in northeast Syria, where tens of thousands of civilians who survived the IS caliphate are waiting to be returned to their places of origin, said Eido Baba Sheikh, son of Yazidi spiritual leader Baba Sheikh.

He said it is believed that there could be Yazidi children among foreign or IS families in the camps, a result of the sale of Yazidis under the caliphate. Complicating the search will be that many of the children may have never learned to identify as Yazidis, or to speak Kurmanji, the language of the community. Women and older children may have started to identify with their captors, as well, confounding search efforts.

And though the community will recognise the children of Yazidi survivors as Yazidis, they will still face legal difficulties in Iraq, said Eido Baba Sheikh.

Under the country's family laws, a child is registered under the nationality and religion of their father, and it is unclear whether Iraq will allow Yazidi survivors to register their children as Iraqi Yazidis when there are questions about the children's patrimony.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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