United Nations human rights experts expressed on Friday profound concerns for the physical, mental, educational and overall medical welfare of children arbitrarily held in detention centers in northeast Syria, as well as those children who appear to be missing and unaccounted for.
“We are extremely concerned that since the January 2022 attack, the fate and whereabouts of at least 100 of those boys remain unaccounted for, which raises serious concerns relating to their right to life,” the experts said.
On January 20, ISIS attacked a Kurdish-run jail in northeast Syria, freeing fellow militants.
A car bomb hit the entrance of the Ghwayran prison in al-Hasaka and a second blast went off in the vicinity before ISIS militants attacked Kurdish security forces manning the facility.
Following several days of clashes, Kurdish forces retook full control of the prison.
The brazen ISIS jailbreak attempt and ensuing clashes left more than 180 dead in the extremists' most high-profile military operation since their military defeat nearly three years ago.
Experts had previously warned that boys as young as 10 or 12 have been arbitrarily detained at the jail in conditions that undermined their health, welfare and long-term best interests as children, as victims of terrorism and as vulnerable young persons.
The independent experts called on the de facto authorities to allow all humanitarian actors to have full and unimpeded access to the children.
“Some of these cases might amount to enforced disappearance, and where children are concerned, States -- and de facto authorities -- must undertake special measures of protection that reflect their vulnerability.”
The authorities in charge of the prison, who have been calling for the immediate repatriation of all foreign nationals, have been given an almost impossible humanitarian, human rights and security responsibility by third country states, they warned.
Under international law, they urged them to carry out a prompt, transparent, impartial and independent investigation relating to the circumstances in which these boys have disappeared, and to make the results public.
Several international organizations, including Save the Children and Human Rights Watch, estimated that there were more than 700 children held in the prison before the attack.
“The conditions of detention in the prison have worsened,” they said, noting that there are severe cases of malnutrition, and many of the boys detained in the prisons were seriously injured during the jailbreak and their wounds are not receiving critical medical treatment.