BY DAILY SABAH WITH AA
ISTANBUL APR 02, 2023
Children sit on the ground at al-Hol Camp, in Hasakeh, Syria, Mar. 18, 2021. (AFP Photo)
It has been five years since children remain locked up in terrorist group YPG/PKK camps set up to house Daesh members. Meanwhile, U.N. experts urge their countries to take immediate actions
The fate of children as young as five remains uncertain in the camps controlled by the terrorist group, the PKK and its Syrian offshoot YPG, in Syria’s north five years on. The United Nations experts recently called for the urgent repatriation of children from northeast Syria as they enter their fifth year of detention.
They said children in conflict zones must be protected, not punished. “Many children are now entering their fifth year of detention in north-east Syria since they were detained by the de facto authorities following the fall of Baghouz in early 2019,” experts highlighted. They talked about camps controlled by the U.S.-backed YPG/PKK terror group.
“It is now time to bring them home,” they said.
The experts include the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child and Fionnuala Ni Aolain, U.N. Special Rapporteur, on protecting and promoting human rights while countering terrorism.
Since 2019, more than 25 countries have repatriated their citizens from Syrian detention camps. However, Western countries have been reluctant to bring home their nationals and family members suspected of joining the Daesh terrorist group in Syria.
The experts said the two largest locked camps for women, girls, and young boys, Al-Hol and Roj, still hold around 56,000 individuals, including 37,000 foreign nationals. More than half of the camp’s population are children, 80% under 12 and 30% younger than five.
There are also more than 850 boys deprived of liberty in prisons and other detention and “rehabilitation centers” throughout northeast Syria.
“The mass detention of children in north-east Syria for what their parents may have done is an egregious violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” said experts.
The convention prohibits discrimination and punishment of children based on their parents’ status, activities, expressed opinions, or beliefs. The children are detained without legal basis, judicial authorization, review, control, or oversight, violating the rights of the child convention, which affirms that no child shall be deprived of liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily.
“Most children have known nothing but conflict and closed camps, where the living conditions amount to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment and pose an imminent risk to their lives, physical and mental integrity and development,” said experts.
“These squalid camps are no place for children to live with dignity,” lacking access to basic needs such as medical treatment, health services, food, water and education.
“The security situation is constantly deteriorating. In the last few months, four children, including three young girls, were murdered in the camp, with absolute impunity,” said experts.
According to experts, many imprisoned boys have tuberculosis, are undernourished, and have untreated wounds. Many boys are violently removed from the camps and placed in detention, and “rehabilitation” centers on reaching 12, often in the middle of the night and at gunpoint.
“These forms of further inhuman treatment against boys are based on gender stereotypes and have dramatic and lasting consequences,” experts raised concerns.
“All these children are at extreme risk of sexual and gender-based violence, trafficking, and enslavement. Children with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to violence and harm.”
They said the children are victims of terrorism and severe violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. They must be treated with dignity in all contexts, whether armed conflict or terrorism. “Safe return to their home countries, under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, is the only solution and must be prioritized,” they emphasized.
“States must urgently repatriate children and their mothers – a solution that we now know is eminently feasible,” said experts.
A report published in January by Human Rights Watch has said that the unlawful detention of children by YPG/PKK amounted to war crimes. Though Daesh significantly lost clout in Syria, their remnants, mostly women married to Daesh members and their children, were rounded up by YPG/PKK and sent to detention camps.
The report by Jo Becker and Letta Tayler of HRW, published on Global Justice Journal’s website, says neither the children nor the adults detained in northeast Syria have been brought before a judicial authority, and their detention is “arbitrary and unlawful.”
It says, “Detention based solely on family ties is a form of collective punishment, a war crime. Governments that knowingly and significantly contribute to this abusive confinement may be complicit in foreigners’ unlawful detention.”
The YPG is the Syrian affiliate of the PKK terror group. The U.S.’ support for the YPG has long strained relations between Ankara and Washington.
Daesh attracted many “foreign fighters” worldwide when it emerged in Syria and Iraq. Türkiye’s efforts helped thwart the flow of potential recruits while operations, including those backed by Türkiye, wiped out the terrorist group’s presence in Syria’s north. In 2019, it lost its last bastion in the region.
The YPG/PKK, which seized much of northern and eastern Syria from Daesh with the aid of the U.S. (which, ironically, recognizes PKK as a terrorist group), set up camps for their prisoners, only to face criticism earlier from the U.N. which deplored the inhumane and degrading conditions at camps.
Categories: Arab World, Asia, Middle East, Syria, United Nations
Just wondering. Who pays for the running of the camps? Just the food must cost quite a lot…?
I feel so bad for these innocent children being locked up like criminals and having little or no rights to speak of nor a stable life with education, love, and security. It is a very tragic and sad situation for this world’s future citizens…