UN Says Minors In Syrian Jail Are In “Precarious” Position

The United Nations warned that children detained in a Syrian prison that was targeted recently by Islamic State (ISIS) fighters “are in a precarious situation” despite some of the basic services now being in place.

Bo Viktor Nylund, UNICEF Representative in Syria said they have met with some of the children still detained in the Ghwayran detention center in al-Hasakah, northeast Syria.

“For at least ten days, children who have lived in dire conditions in Ghwayran detention center, many of them for years, witnessed and survived heightened violence in and around the prison further to the attack in mid-January,” Nylund said.

Nylund said that the children should “never have been there in the first place”, adding that UNICEF is working to immediately provide safety and care for children.

According to Nylund, local authorities are making efforts to stabilize the situation in and outside the prison, emphasizing that more work should be done to improve children’s protection.

UNICEF in a statement said they are ready to help support a new safe place in the northeast of Syria to take care of the most vulnerable children – some as young as 12 years old.

“Children should never be in detention due to association with armed groups. Children associated with and recruited by armed groups should always be treated as victims of conflict, it added.

“UNICEF stands ready to facilitate the speedy and systematic repatriation of foreign children and the reintegration of children in Syria to their communities of origin,” it added.

On January 20, ISIS fighters rammed two explosive-packed vehicles into Ghwayran prison to release their comrades. The facility had around 3,500 prisoners, including the children, and it was one of the boldest attacks by the group in Syria in recent years.

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