A Stolen Childhood: Children Incarcerated In Adult Prisons In Northeast Syria

‘Hundreds of children, some as young as 12, are detained in adult prisons, places they simply do not belong’

The outbreak of the Arab Spring stirred a chain of events in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Yet, the situation in Syria is getting worse. It has become a place for power struggles, radicalism, and foreign intervention. The civil war has turned into “a small world war”.

While the conflict at the beginning involved the Syrian regime and the opposition group, other actors have appeared on the scene.

Despite his victory in the latest election, Al-Assad is not in full control.

The power of the Islamic State (IS) was curtailed since its defeat in 2019, yet women and children, who are said to have ties with IS, are bearing the consequences.

The International Committee for Red Cross (ICRC) revealed that children, mostly boys, are incarcerated in adult prisons in northeast Syria, an area controlled by the Syrian Kurdish forces since the defeat of ISIS. The ICRC called on the world to act immediately to save the lives of these innocent children.

Hundreds of children, 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.

The United Nations (UN) said that at least 150 boys are held in the Ghuwayran military center in Hasakah.

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

Selective morality

The UN has repeatedly demanded the reparation of these children to their home countries, or their integration into Syrian local communities. Earlier this year, a woman and 4 children were found dead in these detention camps, yet there was no media coverage. In other words, the Western states are showing little interest in the issue.

A general view of Al-Hol displacement camp in Hasaka governorate, Syria April 2, 2019. REUTERS/Ali Hashisho/File Photo/File Photo

“No one – most of all innocent children – should be living under the challenging and potentially dangerous humanitarian conditions in the Al-Hol camp,” said the UN humanitarian agency.

The non-ending war in Syria

Since the onset of the war, a number of Syrians fled their country, seeking asylum in neighboring countries, where they are exposed to unprecedented threats and human rights violations.

Those who chose to stay in Syria are living in extreme poverty. Since the war began, the economic situation has deteriorated. According to the World Bank, cumulative GDP losses were estimated at $226 billion.

Now with the economy in shambles and large swathes of the country controlled by terrorist groups, it’s naïve to argue that the conflict will end anytime soon.

“The only solution to assuage the refugee crisis and bestow hope and justice to Syrians is a long-term political peace settlement in Syria, where people are once more able to regain the ability to live,” Cartell Cheema, a journalist at Cherwell writes.


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