The fate of 100 children who had been detained in a Syrian prison is unknown more than two months after jihadists attacked the facility, United Nations experts said on Friday.
International rights groups, including Save the Children and Human Rights Watch, have previously said 700 boys had been in the Kurdish-run jail in northeastern Hassakeh province before it was attacked by the Islamic State group.
“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,” the UN human rights experts said in a statement.
“Some of these cases might amount to enforced disappearance,” they added.
Aged 12-18, the detainees included many who had adult relatives inside Ghwayran prison and were transferred from nearby displacement camps housing thousands of children of jihadist fighters.
The independent experts called on the de facto authorities to allow all humanitarian actors to have full and unimpeded access to children still held at Ghwayran.
“Harm to these children must be identified, and those responsible must be held accountable to prevent impunity,” the UN experts said.
🇸🇾#Syria: Concern for welfare of children arbitrarily held in detention centres & those missing, after January attack on ISIL prison. 100 boys still unaccounted for. UN experts call for humanitarian access, investigations & accountability: https://t.co/Xd0j4kWSFj pic.twitter.com/qjx6Un3Ijv
— UN Special Procedures (@UN_SPExperts) April 1, 2022
The IS prison break attempt from Ghwayran triggered a week of clashes inside and around the Kurdish-run facility, leaving hundreds dead, before Kurdish-led forces recaptured the jail.
“Many of the boys detained in the prisons were seriously injured during the jailbreak and their wounds are not receiving critical medical treatment,” the UN experts said.
Kurdish authorities maintain that no one escaped but the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said several jihadists had fled.