Guantanamo-like camps in Syria
March 6, 2023 - Tens of thousands of women and children remain abandoned by their countries in camps in Syria, detained indefinitely without charge by U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led forces.
As many as 69,100 detainees are alleged Islamic State-linked (IS) suspects.
Human Rights Watch say almost 42,000 foreigners remain held in the region. Al-Hol and Roj are two sprawling camps primarily holding the wives, other adult female relatives, and children of male IS suspects.
Eight thousand women and children live at Al-Rukban camp, a makeshift settlement in the arid “no man’s land” on the Jordanian and Syrian borders. The al-Assad regime has blocked United Nations aid from entering Al-Rukban for over three years.
Nearly 27,000 foreigners in the camps are from neighbouring Iraq, while almost 10,000 others are from about 60 other countries.
More than 60 per cent of the camp detainees are children under 18 years. Of around 43,500 children, 34,800 are under 12 and 13,000 are under five years. Women comprise 30 per cent of detainees, numbering an estimated 20,730 individuals.
Human Rights Watch report that recent Turkish air and artillery strikes have compounded the dangers at the camps.
“Turkey’s attacks highlight the urgent need for all governments to help end the unlawful detention of their nationals in northeast Syria, allowing all to come home and prosecuting adults as warranted,” said Letta Tayler, associate crisis and conflict director at Human Rights Watch. “For every person brought home, about seven remain in unconscionable conditions, and most are children.”