Libyan funding: three charged with suspected corruption by Lebanese judges

PARIS: Violence, war, displacement, hunger, grief … The children repatriated from Syria by France have all experienced a “history marked by traumatic events” that require psychological treatment that will extend beyond several year.

These children experienced “an extreme form of violence, each in a slightly different way, depending on their age, the places where they were placed,” explains psychologist Maurween Veyret Morau.

France on Tuesday continued to return to the national territory of 35 French minor children who were in the camps in northeastern Syria, as well as 16 mothers, the first massive repatriation of this type since the fall in 2019 of the “caliphate” in the Islamic State group ( ICE).

Upon their arrival in French territory, minors returning from the area of ​​operation of terrorist groups have since 2017 benefited from a medical-psychological assessment from referral centers across the country.

Purpose: to diagnose post-traumatic stress disorder, identify a possible mental impact and recommend the best methods of care and follow-up, especially psychotherapeutic, adapted to the child’s needs and age.

Among the referral centers, the service at the Avicenne Hospital in Bobigny in the Paris region has already received a large number of minors returning from such areas of surgery.

“Until their arrival in France, the vast majority of these children have lived a history marked by traumatic events,” Ms. Veyret Morau, who works in this service.

“They suffered the war, for some, military training, various atrocities, hunger, thirst and many endured grief,” she says.

These traumas can result in a wide range of symptoms: many have anxiety-depressive disorders, attachment, eating disorders, sleep …

“Among the children who have been evaluated so far, all have received a recommendation for care,” emphasizes Alessandra Mapelli, also a psychologist in Avicenna’s hospital team.

A psychological assessment usually begins a few days after their arrival in France. It then takes the form of a weekly consultation, which will be spread over several years.

“The ability to come back”

“The younger the children, the more it is possible to hope for” positive development, “says Gisèle Apter, professor of child psychiatry.

“The problem is that within a very short or reasonable time, you must be able to offer a care course adapted to everyone, which first requires that you find a sustainable reception structure,” she continues.

If fears are expressed about the consequences of a probable indoctrination of these children who have lived under the yoke of IS, psychiatrists will be positive: “40% of the children were born on the spot, are therefore under 5 years old” and did not have time to be indoctrinated, recalls Serge Hefez, a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst at the Paris hospital in Pitié-Salpêtrière, who cared for fifteen children who were repatriated three years ago.

And for the elderly, he does not believe in “irreversible indoctrination.”

Upon their arrival in France, the biggest trauma, according to him, will be “the separation from their mother”, although the connection can be maintained in prison.

“The mother-child relationship has already been complicated there, it remains this”, abounds Nicolas Bosc, psychiatrist in the Avicenna team. “These children are in a new family in a very brutal way.”

Nevertheless, the follow-up of those who returned several years ago invites optimism. Avicenna’s team sees a large number of them “being much much better”.

“A will to live, an ability to return is found in all these children,” Serge Hefez also believes, without ruling out the appearance years later of “traumatic flare-ups, depressive attacks or anxiety.”

“Children who have known the war or the separations have always been there,” he adds. “We just have to do our utmost to help them get back to a normal life.”

According to recent statements by French intelligence, hundreds of French women and nearly 250 children are currently in jihadist prison camps in Syria, controlled by the Kurds.

Leave a Comment