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2 Sep, 2017 12:51

Traumatized & unwilling to speak: RT searches for families of 2 new children in Baghdad orphanage

A search is underway for the families of two new arrivals at a Baghdad orphanage. The two children lost their parents, who are thought to have fled to Iraq to join ISIS. The children are traumatized by their experience and unwilling to speak.

Hadidja and Muhammad were recently brought to the same orphanage in the Iraqi capital, where other Russian-speaking children are being kept after their parents disappeared or were killed.

Their story is one of several that RT has already brought to light through its ‘Bring them home’ campaign, which appeals to anyone with information about the children in the videos to share it at children@rttv.ru.

Hadidja, who has severe burns on her foot, reacts aggressively when the orphanage personnel attempts to touch or address her. Muhammad was wounded in the leg and uses go-carts, as seen from the coverage.

Since start of the campaign, RT has received numerous calls from people who say they recognize children in the video. People shared heart-breaking stories about their sons, daughters, and in-laws who fled to join Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

In late August, five Russian-speaking children orphaned in Iraq were brought back home to Russia. The heartbreaking videos that featured sisters Fatima and Khadija, an older girl named Mariam, and two boys, Sultan Murad and Ali, allowed the relatives to identify the children. 

Earlier in August, a four-year-old Chechen boy, Bilal Tagirov, also returned to Russia after living with his jihadist father, who was fighting alongside IS in Mosul. 

Their return home is a complicated affair, as the children lack passports and there are bureaucratic hurdles and a difficult security situation in Iraq.

The Iraqi Embassy is actively cooperating with its Russian colleagues on the issue, Haidar Hadi, Iraqi Ambassador to Russia, told RT. 

“These children [in the orphanage] suffered a lot. And many of them are just 6-8 years old,” he said. Hadi recalled a case when one terrorist was asked why he took his son with him in Iraq. The man answered that it was easier to cross the border as the child arouses less suspicion, Hadi said.

RT is campaigning to help orphans stranded in war-torn Iraq to find their relatives and return home to safety and continues to appeal to family members who may recognize any of the children shown in RT’s coverage to get in touch with the channel at children@rttv.ru