Nowhere To Go: Children in Iraq trapped in cycles of violence and poverty as conflict reaches unprecedented levels

 

Nowhere To Go: Children in Iraq trapped in cycles of violence and poverty as conflict reaches unprecedented levels

An Iraqi child walks through the rubble of a building which was destroyed in an airstrike, as fighting between Iraqi security forces and ISIS continues, western Mosul, Iraq, Saturday 11 March 2017.

Over 224,298 persons are still internally displaced from Mosul and surrounding areas since the military operations began on 17 October 2016, according to a UNHCR update from 14 March 2017. Operations to retake west Mosul began on 19 February and significant population movements started on 25 February, with around 5,000 persons received in camps daily. UNICEF reported on 3 March 2017 that some 15,000 children had fled the western section of Iraq’s Mosul city in the previous week, where fighting between the Government forces and ISIS is intensifying by the day.

© UNICEF/Romenzi

An Iraqi child walks through the rubble of a building which was destroyed in an airstrike, as fighting between Iraqi security forces and ISIS continues, western Mosul, Iraq, March 2017

BAGHDAD/NEW YORK/HONG KONG, 22 June 2017 – Three years since the intensification of violence in Iraq, children are trapped in an endless cycle of violence and increasing poverty, according to a UNICEF assessment, Nowhere to Go.

“Across Iraq, children continue to witness sheer horror and unimaginable violence,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative in Iraq. “They have been killed, injured, abducted and forced to shoot and kill in one of the most brutal wars in recent history.”

In west Mosul, children are being deliberately targeted and killed to punish families and deter them from fleeing the violence. In less than two months, at least 23 children have been killed and 123 have been injured in that part of the city alone.

Since 2014, in Iraq:
• 1,075 children have been killed, 152 in the first six months of 2017,
• 1,130 children have been maimed and injured, 255 in the first six months of 2017,
• Over 4,650 children have become separated or unaccompanied by their families,
• There have been 138 attacks on schools and 58 attacks on hospitals,
• Over 3 million children don’t attend school on a regular basis while 1.2 million children are out of school,
• One in every four children comes from a poor household,
• More than 5 million children are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.

For nearly four decades, Iraq has faced violence, war, sanctions and instability. But in the last three years alone, conflict has displaced 3 million people – half of them children. Many parts of the country were turned into war zones with civilian infrastructure severely damaged or destroyed. Half of all schools in Iraq are now in need of repairs.

As life opportunities for children dwindle, UNICEF continues to respond to the growing needs of children and their families. But with no end in sight to the ongoing violence in Iraq, UNICEF is appealing for:
• An immediate end to the conflict: all warring parties owe it to the children of Iraq to put an end to the violence,
• All children affected by the crisis, wherever they are, must have access to unimpeded and sustained humanitarian assistance and basic services,
• An end to all grave violations against children, including killing, maiming and recruitment, and an end to attacks on civilian infrastructure,
• Freedom of movement for all families who wish to flee to safety or return to their homes,
• Access to legal protection and services for all children in detention and treatment in line with international standards of juvenile detention,
• Increased investments to improve the quality of education, healthcare and protection services for all children,
• Sustained contributions for humanitarian response: UNICEF has a funding gap of HK$779.9 million (US$100 million) for lifesaving emergency operations in Iraq and for support to children returning to their homes and resuming their lives.