Objective: to ensure that these Iraqis returning from Syria have no links with the jihadist group Islamic State (IS).

Installed in the Jadaa camp in northern Iraq, the 30-year-old returned with two of her children, after three years spent in the Al-Hol camp, in the northeast of neighboring Syria, where Syrian families and Iraqis rub shoulders with relatives of jihadists.

With several thousand Iraqi women and children held in Al-Hol, Baghdad has bet on repatriation.

Even if, in an Iraq where IS once reigned terror, these returns remain a sensitive issue and raise the thorny issue of reconciliation, sometimes at the village level.

Ms Massoud says her husband was killed by IS but acknowledges that her in-laws “were once part of the organization”.

But “now, I don’t know”, she tempers.

Her two children who are with her go to the public school in the Jadaa camp and “have started the exams”.

His three other children, minors, are still in Al-Hol. “I’m waiting for them to come back and then I want to go back to my family.”

Around her are lined up frail tents made of blue tarpaulins.

The camp is presented by the authorities as a “social rehabilitation center” welcoming Iraqis returning from Syria.

Here live more than 450 families who came in several waves. NGOs provide services and activities.

Women interviewed by AFP in Jadaa admit having had a husband or relative affiliated with IS. Others deny any connection.

– ‘IS stigmata’ –

Only “a very limited number” of families “have been influenced” by the ideology of the jihadists, assures AFP Khaled Abdel Karim, in charge of the administration of the camp.

National security agents and “experts specializing in psychological support” meet the families and have them fill out questionnaires to identify any possible ideological drift, he explains.

“We have a whole team” to help residents overcome “the stigma associated with IS”.

“Through our daily contacts, we see that there is no rejection of our activities,” he continues.

“Whether it’s the male/female mix, or the clothing, nothing signals extremist thinking.”

Families also receive assistance to enable them to obtain missing official documents and resume a normal life.

While waiting for their release, residents of Jadaa receive family visits four times a month.

More than a hundred families were authorized to leave the camp to join the provinces of Al-Anbar (west) or that of Salaheddine (north), or the region of Nineveh, where Jadaa is located.

About 30,000 Iraqis, including 20,000 children, are in the Al-Hol camp controlled by Syrian Kurdish forces, less than 10 km from the border with Iraq.

In May, the head of Iraqi diplomacy Fouad Hussein reiterated his country’s commitment to repatriate the families of Al-Hol, after “security checks”.

He called for international support to set up “reintegration programs”.

– Reconciliation needed –

But the return of these families to their areas requires reconciliation agreements, often sponsored by local tribal leaders.

Otherwise, “families considered to be affiliated with IS often have their return hindered by security actors”, are “rejected by their community and are exposed to a high risk of retaliatory attacks”, according to a study by the Bank. world.

Because the host villages may fear that the return of families suspected “of having supported or supporting IS will destabilize their community and create new security risks”.

Chaïma Ali, 41, wants to return home to Al-Qaïm (west) even if she is worried about the welcome that awaits her.

“We hope the locals will accept us. They say we are part of IS. I don’t deny that my husband was a member of the organization. But if he was with IS, would that does that mean I was like him?” she laments.

After five years of exile in Syria, all he cares about is the fate of his two daughters. “My future may be lost, but I don’t want them to lose theirs.”