Press Release: Supporting rehabilitation and reintegration of juveniles associated with terrorist and violent extremist groups through the rehabilitation of youth detention facilities in Iraq

18 July 2023 - Erbil, Iraq

In a collaborative effort, The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) are working in partnership with the Iraq Ministry of Justice to enhance the conditions and facilities at juvenile detention centres in Baghdad and Mosul under the UNODC led, European Union funded project ’STRIVE Juvenile: Preventing and Responding to Violence against Children by Terrorist and Violent Extremist Groups'.  

In giving utmost priority to rehabilitation and reintegration, the partners aim to strengthen children’s resilience against the agendas of terrorist groups; and to empower them and their surroundings to resist recruitment and re-recruitment attempts and achieve successful reintegration into society.

Integrated action into context

According to figures provided by national authorities in 2019, over 2,000 boys and girls perceived as being associated with ISIL were held in detention facilities across Iraq. The impact of detention is devastating for these young individuals, as they are separated from their families and communities for extended periods and often face stigma upon their return. This situation calls for urgent attention and practical solutions to support their rehabilitation and reintegration.

To address this critical issue, the collaboration leverages the extensive experience of both parties in Iraq to focus on the rehabilitation and extension of existing juvenile detention facilities.  Together, the entities wish to improve the conditions of detention and enhance the treatment of young people deprived of their liberty.

Joint endeavor: empowering children through rehabilitation and reintegration

UN-Habitat, mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote sustainable towns and cities, has extensive experience in Iraq; and has successfully addressed various challenges through citizen participatory processes, technical expertise in housing and urban planning, and capacity development for local authorities. UNODC has a strong mandate and expertise in violence against children, justice for children and counter-terrorism.

The collaborative effort encompasses the renovation and refurbishment of juvenile detention facilities, to ensure they are child- and gender sensitive and adequate to effectively rehabilitate and reintegrate children in contact with the justice system. The need for this work was established via a detailed needs assessment conducted by UNODC under STRIVE Juvenile in June 2022. As a result of the activities, affected juveniles will have access to vocational training and educational classrooms, revitalized sports and recreational areas, and improved social spaces for family and social worker visits.

The joining demonstrates a commitment to addressing the urgent needs of Iraqi youth affected by ISIL. By investing in their rehabilitation and reintegration, it is hoped that these young individuals will have a chance to rebuild their lives and contribute positively to society. 

What to expect

The rehabilitation efforts will primarily focus on the juvenile detention facility in Mosul, where vocational training and educational classrooms will be built and equipped. The renovation will also include improvements to sports and recreational areas, social spaces for family visits and meetings with social workers, and the modernization of guards' quarters and dormitories. In Baghdad, the juvenile educational facility in Al-Rashad will undergo rehabilitation to improve leisure, sport, and recreational facilities.

The activities planned are driven by the strong conviction that improving the conditions of detention and offering comprehensive support, is a strong tool to combat stigma and facilitate a sustainable and successful transition back into society.

For further information, please contact:  

UN Habitat Iraq 

Ana Paes | Communication Officer | | +964 (0) 751 522 9680

Bozhan Howizy | Programme Officer | | +964 750 754 5117


Yomna Abouhussein | Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer | 

Helene Berche | Communication Officer |


Notes to editors

STRIVE Juvenile: Preventing and Responding to Violence against Children by Terrorist and Violent Extremist Groups is a five year project funded by the European Union through which UNODC and the partner countries, Indonesia, Iraq and Nigeria, develop and implement comprehensive national responses to prevent and counter terrorism and violent extremism affecting children, in full respect of human rights, gender equality and international law.

Useful Links: ;

STRIVE Juvenile Factsheet