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  • A child walks past the Flag of Iraq.

    A child walks past the Flag of Iraq. | Photo: Reuters

Published 23 September 2017
teleSUR speaks to Iraqi Ambassador to Russia Haidar Mansour Hadi Al-Athari about returning Russian speaking orphans back home.

In an exclusive interview with teleSUR, Iraqi Ambassador to Russia Haidar Mansour Hadi Al-Athari speaks about "Bringing Them Home," a campaign led by Iraqi and Russian authorities focused on returning Russian-speaking orphans back home.

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Those children, whose parents are believed to have been killed while fighting in Islamic State group ranks, are first put in government-run children’s homes in Baghdad. 

Hadi also comments on the recent victories against the Islamic State group on Iraqi ground and the challenges to overcoming terrorism in his country.

Please explain the setting up of a database to know how many children, whose parents fought under the terrorist group flag and how the Iraqi government can help return them home.

During my recent meetings in Moscow with head of Human Rights office and commissioner of children rights, we discussed the issue of setting up a database, which can be accessed by Iraqi and Russian officials who are involved in returning children home. 

The database will also help to know how many children are there in Iraq and it can be updated every time new children are found.

What do those children suffer when losing a member of their families, believed to have been killed while fighting in Islamic State group ranks? And in what psychological situation do they get to children’s homes in Baghdad? 

Children suffer a great deal of mental pain and confusion from what they witnessed when they were with their parents in the war zone. When they reach children homes they still feel confused until they are properly looked after.

How had these children been treated by their terrorist parents, and how much were these children - if so - involved in their parents' militancy?

These parents are part of the terrorists who were fighting in Iraq have put the lives of their children in great danger, unfortunately some of those children got killed by the heavy fighting.

This shows the brutality of these terrorists, who went to the extent of causing the deaths of their own children.

Please comment on children’s homes in Baghdad. How many homes? How many children are there currently? How does it work? What is their structure.

The children homes in Iraq are run by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and are equipped with all necessary equipment so the children can be looked after the best way possible.

There are discussions between the Iraq and Russian officials to put all children from Russian origin in one home to make sure they receive the best service. The caretakers at those homes are government employees. 

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The homes are structured to provide the best environment for the children. These homes were visited by officials from the Russian Embassy in Baghdad. As for the number of children currently in Iraq, according to Russian officials there are around 500 children.

How many children could the Iraqi government return home now? What is the process of returning them home? 

The Iraqi Embassy in Moscow has worked closely with Russian and Iraqi sides and managed to return so far 16 children from different parts of Russia safely to their relatives. The process starts when the Iraqi government receives official documents proving that those children are from a Russian origin. 

These documents submitted by the Russian Embassy in Baghdad to the Department of Human Rights at the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs which in turn contacts the Higher Judicial Council with the documents to look at. 

Once the Jude approves the documents and gives the OK for the child or children to return home, then the Immigration Department at the Ministry of Interior in Baghdad stamps the passport(s) which allows for the child or children to leave the country.

Where are they from? What foreign governments have helped in this process? How do they help the Iraqi government?

Most children found in Iraq are from Russian origin or from former Soviet Union countries. We have children found from other countries. Foreign governments who have children found in Iraq work closely with the Iraqi Embassies and Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Baghdad to resolve the issue through diplomatic and legal channels.

What is needed, what does the Iraqi government need and plan for this work to be more effective? 

What is needed is the cooperation of governments that have found children in Iraq to provide official documentation to prove that those children are citizens of those countries.

After retaking Mosul from the Islamic State group last July, the Iraqi Army is currently involved in an offensive in the district of Tal Afar: how is this fighting now, and after this, what does it take to finally win the battle against the Islamic State group in Iraq?

Now Mosul and Tel Afar are fully liberated and displaced families are moving back to their homes with the support of the security forces. The Iraqi forces still advancing and chasing terrorists who pulled back into smaller pockets until they are destroyed and killed. 

To finally win the battle against the Islamic State in Iraq is by working together as Iraqis with the support of our friends and allies to win the war against the ideology of the Islamic State group.

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Until 2003, there were neither Al-Qaeda nor Islamic State group terrorists in Iraq: so what happened that has brought the Iraqi, a historically stabilized country, to this situation?

After the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 to topple Saddam Hussein's brutal regime, and later the disarmament of the Iraqi Army and other security forces that resulted in our borders being unguarded which opened the doors wide open to terrorists to travel to Iraq from all around the world, to fight American and other foreign forces in Iraq. 

This is one of the reasons that turned a historically stabilized country like Iraq into a state of chaos at some point until we were faced with the Islamic State group, which managed to occupy 40 percent of the territory of Iraq. But with the determination of the Iraqi people who fought together hand in hand to liberate Iraq from terrorism.

What are the biggest challenges to a peaceful Iraq?

The biggest challenges to a peaceful Iraq after full liberation of Diyala, Al-Anbar and Salah Al Din Provinces and recently Mosul and Tel Afar, is to keep that victory and continue the fight until we kill the last terrorist in Iraq. 

The only way to keep the peace in Iraq is by working together as Iraqis with our neighboring countries, allies and the international community to continue the fight against the ideology of terrorists, only then we will have a peaceful Iraq.


Edu Montesanti is an independent analyst, researcher and journalist whose work has been published by Truth Out, Pravda, Global Research, Brazilian magazine Caros Amigos, and numerous other publications across the globe. www.edumontesanti.skyrock.com 


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