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100 children missing after Islamic State assault on a prison in Syria

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) vehicle in the Syrian city of Hayin. / EP

“There are cases of severe malnutrition, many of them were seriously injured during the escape and their injuries did not receive medical treatment,” the authorities warn.


United Nations experts have affirmed this Friday that nearly a hundred children are unaccounted for after the assault carried out in January by the Islamic State jihadist group against a prison in the Syrian city of Ghueiran, under the control of the country’s Kurdish authorities. Arab.

“We are extremely concerned because since the January 2022 attack, the whereabouts and fate of at least one hundred children remain unclear, which is a serious concern about their right to life,” they have stated, before stressing that “some of these cases can amount to an enforced disappearance.

Thus, they have stressed that “the authorities in charge of the prison, who have been requesting the immediate repatriation of all foreign citizens, have received an almost impossible situation at the humanitarian, human rights and security level from third-country states” .

“Under International Law, however, it is up to them to carry out a prompt, transparent, impartial and independent investigation into the circumstances in which these children disappeared and publish their results,” they said, before stressing that “the damage to These children must be identified and those responsible must be held accountable to avoid impunity.”

In this sense, they have emphasized that “the states to which the nationals belong have clear obligations to protect these vulnerable children caught up in the conflict in the violence and they cannot avoid these obligations simply by ignoring the whereabouts of their citizens”.

The attack left 200 dead.

The experts have also expressed their discomfort at the lack of clear information on the number of minors imprisoned before the attack and have denounced that “the conditions of detention in the prison have worsened” since the attack on Ghueiran, which left more than 200 dead.

“There are cases of severe malnutrition. Many of the children detained in the prisons were seriously injured during the escape and their injuries did not receive medical treatment, “they have reported, while adding that the conditions of detention do not seem to meet the minimum set by international standards.

Specifically, they have detailed that the minors are held in overcrowded cells with between 20 and 25 people, in inhuman conditions and with limited access to drinking water, while the few previous contacts between the inmates and their families have been suspended.

“These children have already been victims on many levels,” they argued. “Many of them were taken to Syria by their families, while others were born there, in families allegedly linked to the Islamic State. They are injured and affected through no fault of their own and are being left behind in the face of an experience of disastrous and unending violence.”

“These children, mainly young people, are victims of terrorism and very serious violations of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law. They are considered guilty by association, discriminated against and punished. No attention is paid to their interests. They deserve protection and care, non-violence and abandonment by the international community”, they have argued.

For this reason, they have demanded that humanitarian access to prisons be restored and have stressed that it is a first step to determine the well-being and whereabouts of detainees. “All states and actors present in northeast Syria must ensure the protection of children and prevent them from further harm,” they said.

“Despite the recent attack on the prison, humanitarian assistance to arbitrarily detained persons cannot be understood or presented as material support for terrorism under any anti-terrorism legislation or donor agreement,” they stressed.

Finally, the UN experts have indicated that “an international solution must be found for the suffering of those who cannot be repatriated in line with international law.” “It is clear that the current situation cannot be reconciled with any position in which states are facing international threats to peace and security, including the fight against terrorism and violent extremism,” they stressed.

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