Around 3,000 Tunisians left to join terrorist groups abroad, 800 have been killed while fighting and 600 have returned home.
Last year, Majdi Aroussi, Regional Delegate for the Protection of Children in Mahdia—a coastal city in the north of Tunisia—received two minor returnees, five-year-old Karim, who was orphaned in Libya, and Aziz, who returned from Syria with his mother before she was sent to jail. The delegates ensured the children’s wellbeing and initiated their rehabilitation and reintegration into society. Aziz is now enrolled in school, which makes his grandmother really proud.
Reflecting the GCTF Good Practices on Addressing the Challenge of Returning Families of Foreign Terrorist Fighters in its work, Hedayah has trained over 100 educators, psychologists and social workers in Tunisia to support children like Aziz.
Cristina Mattei, who manages Hedayah’s youth programs in Tunisia, explains why these actions are necessary.
“It is not just a protection and human rights issue, but reintegration also helps prevent a cycle of violent extremism. Children who have grown up in a culture of extreme violence and lost their parents may be extremely vulnerable socially and emotionally. This may attract recruiters of violent extremist groups who prey on such vulnerabilities. Our work prevents that from happening.”
You can learn more about the program and read the full story here.
*Names changed to protect identities
Photos provided by Hedayah