The International Committee of the Red Cross says hundreds of children, mostly boys, have been moved to prisons from al Hol camp in Al Hasakah, Syria. The area is controlled by US-backed YPG militia.

A woman walks with children at al Hol camp in Al Hasakah governorate in Syria, on June 23, 2021.
A woman walks with children at al Hol camp in Al Hasakah governorate in Syria, on June 23, 2021. (AFP)

Hundreds of children are incarcerated in adult prisons in northeastern Syria, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said, disclosing their plight as inmates for the first time.

The children, mostly boys, have been removed to prisons from al Hol, a desert camp, the aid agency said. 

The camp is believed to be run by the YPG, the Syrian wing of the PKK terror group, which leads the SDF forces.

Most are women and children who fled there after Daesh's last enclaves collapsed two years ago.

Local authorities have said that many are associated with Daesh terrorists.

"Hundreds of children, mostly boys, some as young as 12, are detained in adult prisons, places they simply do not belong," Fabrizio Carboni, ICRC regional director for the Middle East, told a news briefing.

Findings shared with officials

The ICRC made 36 visits to places of detention across Syria last year, the only agency with such access. 

It requires private talks with inmates on their treatment and conditions, but its confidential findings are shared only with the authorities.

It has access to some places of detention in northeast Syria – a YPG-controlled area – a spokeswoman said, declining to give details.

The ICRC also renewed its appeal for countries to repatriate their nationals from the al Hol camp and keep families together, "as international law requires.”

Carboni, who has visited al Hol four times in the past two years, said: "I really can't get used to seeing so many children behind barbed wire."

The ICRC runs a field hospital and provides food and water at the sprawling site. 

Medical needs remain huge, with a rise in resident children dying last year, including some from preventable conditions, Carboni said.

UNICEF said eight children under 5 years old had died at the camp last August, half from malnutrition-related complications.

The other deaths had been due to dehydration from diarrhoea, heart failure, internal bleeding and hypoglycaemia, the UN children's agency said.

Turkey, the US and the EU designate PKK as a terror group. 

The PKK has waged a terror campaign against Turkey and its neighbours for over 30 years and the fighting has left more than 40,000 dead, including civilians.

However, by supporting the SDF, the Washington has chosen the YPK as an ally to fight against Daesh in Syria despite Ankara’s protest, sweeping its links with the PKK under the rug. 

After the defeat of the Daesh terror group, territories it formerly held are now controlled by PKK-affiliated groups.

READ MORE: Exclusive: PKK/YPG conscripting minors as it struggles with recruitment

Source: Reuters