In 2008, the Ministry of National Solidarity made a commitment to identify children through DNA tests and a draft law was prepared in this regard. However, a decade later nothing has been done.

The institutional violence against the children runs deep, denying them a basic human right, namely education. In 2006, then-education minister Aboubakr Benbouzid pledged to provide some 600 children born in the hideouts with an educational plan and psychological treatment. An agreement was signed with the Ministry of National Solidarity to enrol them all in school. Yet, despite such efforts, there are hundreds who do not go to school because they were never granted legal status. This complicates their social integration further.

The price of stigmatisation

In addition to the institutional discrimination against the children, there is also a psychological price to pay. Because of the difficult environment in which they were born and raised and their direct experience with violence, many suffer from suicidal tendencies, psychological and psychosomatic disorders, trauma and anti-social behaviour.

Things are only made worse by the fact that they are socially stigmatised because of their background and their being born to jihadists, so that they are often blamed for their parentsʹ actions. As a result of such treatment, the children are constantly facing a combination of rejection and alienation.

There is a need to place these children in a protective social and therapeutic environment where they can be assisted by professionals both socially and medically. It is crucial to do so in order to avoid reproducing the extreme violence in which these children were born and raised. At the same time, the children need to be integrated into society, which requires that the Algerian authorities legally acknowledge their existence and their need for help.

When thousands of children in Iraq and Syria were members of the Islamic State, the importance of allowing the children of former Algerian jihadists to lead a normal life becomes all the more obvious.

Dalia Ghanem-Yazbeck

© Carnegie Endowment for International Peace 2018

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