"IS terrorised child soldiers"

Veteran Flemish war correspondent Rudi Vranckx has spoken with former child soldiers who have escaped territory controlled by so called Islamic State (IS). He says that the youngsters have experienced things that we cannot image, but at the same time they are not receiving any psychological guidance.

VRT journalist Rudi Vranckx, who is near the front in the vicinity of the beleaguered Iraqi city of Mosul, spoke with former child soldiers in refugee camps in the area.

Rudi Vranckx: "The youngsters are today living with relatives in refugee camps. There is no psychological guidance for the children I met. However, they tell stories of experiences that we simply cannot imagine. It makes you think: what will become of them?"

The youngsters are aged 15 and 16. They were abducted by IS when they were 13 or 14. For a year and a half they lived in IS training camps.

"They underwent humiliations and brainwashing. Every day they were made to pray from 6AM onwards. They took turns praying and following military training. One boy told me that every day he suffered blows and kickings in order to steel him. Ceramic tiles were also hurled at their heads."

In addition to physical abuse the youngsters were also terrorised the Flemish journalist reports.

Rudi Vranckx: "They were handed a laptop and shown how IS executed people, then told that they too should learn to do this. If they were unwilling they would be beheaded they were told."

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Abuse leaves marks.

Rudi Vranckx: "The youngsters speak in a monotonous, stuttering voice. It's hard to say what is behind that. All complain of sleepless nights and nightmares."

The traumatised youngsters receive no special care.

Rudi Vranckx: "All that happens is that organisations who track people down in the camps register their accounts. Some organisations try to organise transport so that the youngsters can travel to Germany to be cared for."