Located in northeastern Syria, Camp Roj is home to families and relatives of individuals associated with the notorious terrorist organization ISIS. Within this encampment, women and mothers find solace amidst their daily routines, sheltered under tents embellished with the emblem of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Their future remains uncertain as they patiently await the resolution of their destinies. In this desolate setting, the passage of time has become inconsequential, as evening merges seamlessly with daylight.
At Camp Roj, inhabitants are grappling with a prolonged pause in their lives and carry the weight of their memories and endure the painful revisiting of bygone moments.
The narratives of their journeys to Syria exhibit a remarkable resemblance.
For ISIS wives, when their husbands committed to joining the ranks of the extremist organization, their families were compelled to accompany them, bracing themselves for the repercussions.
When we carefully examine the daily lives of these women and mothers at Camp Roj and compare them to their previous normal lives in their home countries, it becomes clear that everything is different.
Located in the outskirts of the town of Al-Malikiyah in the Al-Hasakah province, Camp Roj is home to approximately 600 families, totaling around 2,500 individuals.
Among those individuals are Iraqi refugees, displaced Syrians, as well as foreign families of former ISIS fighters hailing from Western and Arab nations.
Asharq Al-Awsat visited this heavily guarded camp and conducted exclusive interviews with a Moroccan, an Egyptian, an Uzbek, and an Iraqi woman.
Most of the women who participated in this investigation expressed their struggles in obtaining sufficient funds to meet their basic needs.
They also lamented the difficulty of accessing clean drinking water, as well as the lack of hygiene, medical care, counseling, education, and proper nutrition.
These women are living within the confines of closed walls and surveillance cameras.
Shuruq, a Moroccan woman hailing from the city of Tetouan, shared her story of spending eight years in several Syrian cities that were subjected to bombings and destruction.
Eventually, she found herself seeking refuge under a tent that offers no protection from the winter cold or the scorching heat of summer.
Today, she bears the responsibility of raising orphaned children after their father, who brought them to this volatile corner of the Middle East, was killed.
“I never decided the fate of my life. I lived the life of my family, then the life of my husband, and now I am a widow at this age... I live each day as written by destiny,” said Shuruq.
The 36-year-old widow recounted her escape from areas under the control of ISIS in mid-2017 following the death of her husband.
“My husband chose to join the organization, and after his death, we had no remaining ties to it. We fled towards areas controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and sought refuge in the camp,” she told Asharq Al-Awsat.
She pointed out that one of the main obstacles preventing women like her from returning to their home countries is the presence of children born in Syria with multiple nationalities.
“My children were born in Morocco, and in my case, there is no legal conflict due to having dual nationality, mixed marriage or giving birth to children in Syria. I don't understand why Morocco hesitates to repatriate us when I am a widow and a mother to orphans.”
“When my mental state deteriorates, day and night become indistinguishable, and the daily routine becomes a blur,” said Shuruq about her daily struggle.
“Sometimes I prepare breakfast for my children at 9 in the morning, and on other days, it's at 3 in the afternoon because time holds no value,” she revealed, adding that she is living in burden.