Supporting children and youth in juvenile centers during COVID-19

15 May 2020 - UNODC works all over the world to support countries in preventing crime and violence and strengthening criminal justice systems, including in relation to children in contact with the law, as alleged offenders, victims and witnesses of crime. UNODC’s objective is to ensure that children – defined by the Convention on the Rights of the Child as all persons under the age of eighteen – are better served and protected by justice systems, and that international standards and norms are applied to safeguard the rights of children in the administration of justice.
UNODC delivered an online training to officials from correctional institutions and juvenile centres in Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) aimed at strengthening their response to COVID-19 and protecting the children and youth in these centres from the spread of the virus in accordance with international health and human rights standards.
Juvenile centers and correctional institutions could face several unique challenges in preventing COVID-19, hence the need for heightened awareness and response. Some of these challenges include the concern of newcomers carrying the virus to the institution or facility, the difficulty of maintaining safe physical distancing when many individuals are living and working within the same closed settings, the dependency of the children and youth on family visits for emotional and mental support which would be restricted due to limiting any external visits and the lack of group based activities and interactions. 


These reasons among others clarify the needed readiness by the social workers, doctors and all relevant staff within the centers and institutions to not only be limited to the hygienic and physical virus preventive and control measures but also to the vital mental and psychological support to be provided to the children and youth in a time of need.

The training sessions brought 42 participants together, of which 16 participants were female staff members, covering three different cities in Egypt and three different emirates in the UAE. The discussions focused on the international standards for prevention, control and treatment of COVID-19, the methods for people working at the juvenile institutions and correctional centers to protect themselves and those they interact with, the mechanisms for maintaining physical and mental health during the pandemic, the quarantine for newcomers to ensure they are not carriers before joining the rest of the children and youth, and the vital need to maintain treatment for those who suffer from other medical conditions or private needs.

Efforts were provided through cooperation between UNODC’s Office for the Gulf Cooperation Council Region (OGCCR) and the Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa (ROMENA) and with the technical measures and insight delivered by  the Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation Section and the Prisons and HIV section at UNODC Headquarters in Vienna, Austria. 

For More Information:

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) - UNODC ROMENA Updates

Protecting children deprived of liberty during the COVID-19 outbreak 

Technical Note: COVID-19 and Children Deprived of their Liberty 

Prison Health is Public Health: UNODC supports COVID-19 preparedness and responses in prisons in Egypt