ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Tajikistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday that his government hoped they would be able to repatriate 75 from Iraq children whose mothers Baghdad has jailed over links with the Islamic State.
Foreign Minister Sirodjidin Mukhriddin estimated that, out of 92 Tajikistani children stuck in Iraq, 75 appear to be good candidates for repatriation, AFP reported. The exact requirements the children needed to meet to be considered were not specified.
The mothers have reportedly agreed for the children to be returned. Following negotiations between the two governments, Tajikistan agreed to pay $400 to Iraq to return each child.
Mukhraddin added that most of the children's fathers were killed during Iraq’s three-year fight against the Islamic State.
He claimed, however, that bringing back women convicted of links with, or membership in, the Islamic State, however, would be a much more difficult.
"Iraqi judges sentenced a number of female citizens of Tajikistan to long sentences, some even to life sentences," AFP quoted him as saying. The repatriation process for them, he said, "will be long and hard."
Tajikistan's authorities have said that since 2011, over 1,000 citizens traveled to Iraq and Syria to join militant groups.
Following the emergence of the Islamic State in the two countries in 2014, thousands of foreign nationals flocked to areas under their control to join the extremist group. Often accompanying them were women either from their own countries or others.
Officials from Iraq’s Interior Ministry have previously said they had contacted home countries to facilitate the return of the foreign prisoners, but most Western nations have said that they prefer that their nationals remain in Iraq and be brought to justice.
According to Iraq’s counterterrorism law, aiding or membership in groups guilty of terrorism can carry the penalties of life in prison or death.
On Sunday, the Russian government repatriated from Iraq a group of 27 children whose mothers were similarly detained for ISIS links or membership.
Editing by John J. Catherine