A United Nations (UN) human rights expert called for the repatriation of the children kept in a detention centre in Haseke, northeast Syria, that has recently been attacked by Islamic State (ISIS) fighters and where a group of children are still being held as hostages by ISIS militants who are still engaged in armed clashes within the prison compound.
“Boys as young as 12 are living in fear for their lives amid the chaos and carnage in the jail,” said Fionnuala Ní Aoláin on Tuesday, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism and a lawyer by profession.
“They are tragically being neglected by their own countries through no fault of their own except that they were born to individuals allegedly linked or associated with designated terrorist groups.”
“The treatment of hundreds of boys who have been detained in grotesque prison conditions is an affront to the dignity of the child and the right of every child to be treated with dignity,” she added. “Their lives in the prison have always been at risk”.
“The abject refusal of states to repatriate their children is a contributory factor in the security and human rights morass that has ignited in Haseke in recent days (…) Their failure to repatriate these children, who should rightly be considered victims of terrorism and as children in need of protection under international law, beggars belief. Many of these boys, forcibly separated from their mothers and family members in recent years, have been denied their most fundamental human rights their entire lives.”
Ni Aoláin called on all states and other actors engaged in northeast Syria to ensure the protection of civilians, and for those involved in regaining control of the prison to ensure the protection of children held there and to prevent further harm occurring to them.
Ni Aoláin had earlier helped identify 57 states whose nationals are held in Al-Hol and Roj camps in northeast Syria. The states include the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and most of the Western European states as well as Syria’s neighbour, Turkey and Iran. Of the 64 thousand inhabitants at both camps, 80% of those at the Al-Hol camp are women and children.
Ni Aoláin had urged the 57 States on the 8th of February in 2021 to repatriate their nationals at camps without further delay.