Iraq’s children of caliphate face stateless future

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Iman Salman Mahmoud, 20, who fled the violence from Islamic State militants, kisses her baby Aisha Qais Mahmoud, who was born under Islamic State rule and has no identity documents recognised by Iraqi authorities, in Jolkhan, East of Mosul, Iraq, November 10, 2016. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani SEARCH "CALIPHATE CHILDREN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. - RTX2TQJH

Debaga, Iraq—Ali and Sara, born in Islamic State’s self-styled caliphate in northern Iraq, escaped to a camp for displaced people only to confront a new challenge — with no identity documents, they risk joining a generation of stateless children.
After seizing large parts of Iraq and neighboring Syria in 2014, Islamic State imposed its strict interpretation of Islamic law and began to establish the basic frameworks of statehood such as taxes and regulation.
But that project is collapsing in the face of a military campaign in Iraq to crush the militants, with unexpected consequences for ordinary people escaping their grip.
Births in Islamic State-controlled areas were registered with authorities that are not considered valid outside that shrinking territory – or not registered at all. That is adding hundreds and perhaps thousands of children under the age of 2-1/2 to the growing numbers of children across the Middle East who are stateless – lacking legal recognition as a citizen of any country. Stateless children risk missing out on basic rights such as education and healthcare, are likely to face difficulties in adulthood getting a job, and are exposed to abuse and trafficking, according to the United Nations. The five-year-old civil war in neighboring Syria, which has uprooted 10 million people, threatens an even greater number of children born in areas outside Syrian government control or in refugee camps beyond its borders.
Sara was born just as the ultra-hardline Islamists stormed across Iraq in 2014. Her little brother Ali was born two years later, days before his family fled to Debaga camp from their village south of Mosul, Islamic State’s last major stronghold which Iraqi forces are now battling to retake. The children’s father, Mohamed, says he did not register either birth with Islamic State. “If you brought them a child, they would issue a birth certificate themselves in the name of their state,” he said, spurning that proposition.
Some parents did register their newborns with Islamic State, which issued proprietary birth certificates bearing the group’s black-and-white logo declaring “There is no god but God”. Furaq, a 22-year-old from the Mosul area, showed Reuters a lightweight pink document issued by the group when his eight-month-old son Yasser was born. It closely resembles its Iraqi equivalent.—Agencies