Returning British fighters: reintegration through family support

A number of British fighters in Syria want to return to the UK with their children. This brief outlines an ongoing collaboration between researchers from the University of Birmingham and practitioners to offer family-based support to their reintegration.

Executive summary

A number of British fighters in Syria want to return to the UK with their children. This brief outlines an ongoing collaboration between researchers from the University of Birmingham and practitioners to offer family-based support to their reintegration.

  • Families are key in the prevention and deceleration of radicalisation, as well as in the promotion of de-radicalisation processes. Family-based interventions can also have an extremely important intergenerational impact by putting into place early help strategies.
  • Strengthening the families of British fighters and helping them cope with psychological distress will create a safer and more resilient environment for the reintegration of British fighters and their children.
  • The combination of research and practice to design, deliver, and evaluate a family-based program for families of British fighters can yield important methodological developments to ensure the durability and sustainability of such measures.

Background

The ongoing debate over allowing foreign fighters from the so-called Islamic State (IS) to return to the UK has been heightened by the recent case of Shamima Begum. Days before giving birth to her third baby, Shamima was found in a refugee camp in Syria and voiced the wish to return to her home in the UK after having travelled to Syria at the age of 15 to marry an IS fighter. This led to the revocation of Ms Begum’s British citizenship, which has caused discussions around the legitimacy of leaving Ms Begum and her new born son stateless in a Syrian detention camp. Jarrah, Ms Begum’s son, subsequently died of pneumonia at three weeks of age, which seems to have fast-tracked concerns regarding bringing the children of British fighters in Syria back to the UK.

Academic(s)

Dr Raquel da Silva

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