The Guardian last week revealed that the Home Secretary, Mrs Patel, personally intervened to prevent the extraction of orphans and unaccompanied minors from Syria. More than 60 British minors, then, have just been consigned to their fate of fending for their survival in a country steeped in a civil war. These children’s minds’ will be vied for by waring Islamic extremist factions, who will see these youngsters as more meat to indoctrinate into their armies.
Mrs Patel, Mr Javid and Mr Wallace opined their view that these children posed ‘security concerns’ to the U.K. These MPs, some of whom hold the highest offices in the country, must think these children ought to pay for their parent’s sins of going to Syria in the first place. Implicit in their analysis is the assumption that these children would somehow be prospectively less of a threat living-out their childhood in Syria; as opposed to these children being given the opportunity to acclimatise themselves to U.K. norms.
A parent’s irresponsibility cannot be laid at the feet of their child, who’s very survival often depends on conforming to their parent’s beliefs and wants during their early stages of development. I was certainly not in control of whom my parent’s chose to equate themselves, nor what we ate or what they believed in and neither, I suspect, was Mrs Patel. What Patel and Javid seem to be arguing is that terrorist behaviour is somehow hereditary and that these children are already evil – deserving no path to define themselves as anything other. And if already indoctrinated, Patel and Javid lay bare their doubts in being able to persuade these children that there’s a better set of ideas to live by. If we cannot successfully argue in favour of liberal ideas and their better utility for wellbeing—especially when compared to the ideas of ISIS extremism–to children, then what hope do we have in this war of ideas and values?
The decision to abandon British children in Syria leaves them at the mercy of the caliphate and their programme of severe child abuse and collectivisation: abolishing any ownership over their own minds. They will be claimed, if not already, as ‘cubs of the caliphate’ who will eventually graduate to ‘lions’. These British children can be expected to be coerced into carrying out executions and to give their body to the cause; ISIS tend to use young children as suicide bombers due to the, in this situation, unfortunate affliction of being hard to detect when approaching enemy targets. Our nation’s abandoned children will live a life of war and barbarism, with little prospect of deprogramming themselves from any number of extremist ideologies. Once tossed aside, or having heroically escaped, the burden of mental illness –PTSD, depression and severe anxiety the most common among child soldiers — will forever live in the depths of these children’s minds. This is the price these children will pay for their parent’s and our government’s irresponsibility.
Our elected officials had a choice to at least evacuate some of the children caught among the chaos of Syria, yet nominated not to, out of fear that these children would be more of a danger here than there. Yes, there are extremists who dwell within the U.K. and would seek to sink their claws into these children if returned. And yes, on probability, some of these children would have already been indoctrinated into the extreme Islamic faith. But to then absolutely confine them to the uncertain landscape of Syria is ethically reprehensible and only serves to make these probabilities become certainties.