The fight against terrorism in Niger and the fate of IS children

Has the presence of US troops in Niger helped in the fight against terrorism, or has it exacerbated the situation in the country and contributed to the humanitarian crisis? The US has developed close ties with the Nigerien military over the past two decades, and the Americans have been joined by many partners there, including from Canada, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy and France. However, this counter-terrorist assistance did not stop jihadist violence. Meanwhile, the minority Fulani ethnic group – mainly semi-nomadic Muslim cattle herders – have been recruited by local terrorist groups to fight the Niger government in recent years. Now the Nigerien government treats the Fulani as enemies, and the army attacks their villages, which puts the Americans and their allies in an uncomfortable position.

In the Al-Hawl camp in Syria, where families of members of the IS group live, for at least four years, thousands of children have been growing up in an atmosphere marked by the radical jihadist ideology, with no chance of getting an education. Fearing a new generation of fighters will emerge from Al-Hawl, Kurdish officials who rule eastern and northern Syria are experimenting with a rehabilitation program to take children out of their extremist environment. This means taking them away from their mothers and families indefinitely, which raises the concerns of human rights organisations. In addition, later, the home countries are reluctant to take children back. In rehabilitation centres, boys learn drawing and music in the spirit of tolerance, tailoring and hairdressing skills, and also practise various sports.

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