Sharp rise in number of 'IS-linked children' detained in Iraq: UN report

Sharp rise in number of 'IS-linked children' detained in Iraq: UN report
The UN Children and Armed Conflict report voiced concern over the imprisoned 1,091 children in Iraq, with some believed to be as young as nine.
2 min read
20 February, 2022
A significant number of detained minors in Iraq are said to be have 'links with Islamic State', according to the UN [Getty]

More than 1,000 children in Iraq are being detained on alleged "national security-related charges", a UN report has found, warning that the number of detained minors has "increased exponentially" in recent years.  

Some 1,091 children are imprisoned in Iraq - some believed to be as young as nine, the UN Children and Armed Conflict report has warned.

A number of the children detained are suspected to have links to Islamic State group, the report said.

The UN’s findings reflect an "alarming" increase since a report in June 2019 found that 778 children were being held over similar charges, with the youngest being a 10-year-old.

The report also detailed the conditions in which minors were held in under Iraqi detention, where they regularly face obstacles, such as obtaining legal and social services.

The report also said the children were subjected to mistreatment and some were being held with adult detainees, often for a unnecessarily prolonged time.

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Virginia Gamba, the UN special representative for children and armed conflict said that the minors "should be considered and treated primarily as victims".

"Children held on such grounds should be released immediately and handed over to civilian actors. Their detention should only be used as a last resort and for the shortest period of time," she said.

Similar reports highlight that minors in neighbouring Syria were also being detained on similar charges, after IS militants took hundreds of children hostage during the Hasakeh jailbreak last month.

The prison was holding scores of suspected fighters. Some rights groups say that as many as 35 British children were held in various facilities in the Kurdish-controlled north-east Syria.

The UN has made renewed calls for countries to scale up their efforts to repatriate their citizens, particularly children.