Dreaming of a “Normal” Life: Aspirations of Al Hol’s children

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Save the Children International

In recent years, the potential return and repatriation of women and children with perceived associations with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has provoked a strong security response from international actors. In response, Save the Children’s Syria Response Office (SRO) embarked on a multi-faceted research study to better understand how to adapt current and future programming to better meet children’s long-term reintegration needs, and to shift the current discourse towards a more humanizing paradigm. A critical aspect of this paradigm shift is to remember that children with real and/or perceived associations with ISIS are first and foremost children who have been exposed to significant trauma and adversity and require holistic and integrated support to address their myriad needs. Relatedly, it is important to understand that the women living in Al Hol camp are not a monolithic group; they represent a diverse spectrum of experiences, backgrounds, motivations, and future aspirations.

Save the Children commissioned this study to shed deeper insights into how current and future programming can be better adapted and specialized to meet the unique needs of this specific population. The study was designed to provide a holistic view of children’s education and wellbeing needs, anchored in perspectives from caregivers, teachers, and children themselves. The findings from the study will help inform the longer-term vision of equipping the children of Al Hol with the tools and skills to navigate their current camp environment, as well as cope with the range of obstacles and risks they will likely face once they leave Al Hol.

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