POLICE have recruited Syrian refugee mothers as the face of a new campaign to prevent young girls and women in the UK fleeing to join the Daesh terror group.
It comes after figures released on Tuesday (12) showed a spike in the number of British women travelling to the war-torn country.
A short film featuring three Syrian refugee mothers speaks directly to mothers in the UK about the realities of life in Syria, saying that their daughters might never be able to return home.
It is released to coincide with latest figures which show that 56 women and girls were reported missing to the British police by their families in 2015, all feared to have travelled to Syria.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball, Senior National Coordinator for Counter Terrorism policing, said: “We are deeply concerned about the numbers of girls, young women and also families who are taking the decision to go to Syria, unaware of the dangers they face when they arrive and the fact that they are unlikely to ever be able to return home to their devastated wider families.
“The personal accounts of the women in this film highlight the harsh reality of life for women and children living in a war-torn country. I hope they will go some way to helping young women and mothers stop and think about the huge mistake they would be making if they travel.”
The importance of the role of mothers in deterring other family members from travelling is also highlighted in the full findings of an online survey released on Tuesday.
The National Online Survey was carried out between March and April 2015 by National Counter Terrorism Policing. It showed that two-thirds (66 per cent) of 11-25 years old, who were asked which family member they were most likely to talk to, said they would speak to their mother if they were worried about someone they knew being radicalised or considering travelling to a conflict zone abroad.
The film has been developed in association with the charity Families Against Stress and Trauma (FAST). It questions why any woman would want to take their family to live in a war zone.
It is complemented by open letters that the women have written urging mothers in this country to take steps to prevent their daughters travelling to Syria.
In one open letter, refugee Faten said: “I would like to say to mothers here in the UK please don’t take the risk that you might wake up one day and find your daughter has fled to Syria.
“It could be the last time you ever see her, talk to her or see her face. Talk to her about the reality of life in a country torn apart by war, how different it will be to the image that is being portrayed. The reality of life in my country means that just going out of the house brings danger.”
Among some of the headline cases of British teenagers who have gone to Syria include London schoolgirls Shamima Begum and Amira Abase, both 15, and Kadiza Sultana, 16, who left for Syria last February while Manchester twins Salma and Zahra Halane went there in 2014.
Assistant Chief Constable Angela Williams said: “It is important for everyone do everything they can to help stop people from travelling to Syria and other conflict zones. Children have been taken to dangerous places and are at great risk; vulnerable people have been brainwashed into travelling.
“My message to mothers across the region is to please come forward if you have any concerns about your loved ones who may be considering travel to Syria.”