Eighty percent of Iraqi children experience violence in or outside their homes, while the majority of poor children receive no government assistance, according to a survey released by Iraq’s Federal and Regional Governments and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Monday.
“The hard-won gains to the end of the conflict in Iraq and transition to a stable future could be lost without additional investments for all children to reach their full potential” Peter Hawkins, UNICEF’s Representative in Iraq, said in a press release.
According to the survey, which is the first report to focus on the welfare of Iraq’s children in seven years, 1 million children in Iraq need psychosocial support “to cope with the invisible wounds of war.”
In 2016, regional violence displaced 3.4 million people within the county and for the past few years Anbar, Iraq’s largest governorate, and the capital of Ninawa governorate – Mosul – have been the centers of conflict.
Attending school is a key part of children’s recovery. Yet more than half of the country’s public schools need rehabilitation. Despite an enrollment rate of 92 percent, less than half of poor children finish primary school, and the gap widens with age. Southern Iraq has the poorest governorates with the lowest school enrollment and attendance.
— UNICEF Iraq يونيسف (@UNICEFiraq) November 19, 2018
Poverty affects health as well as education. “The data is the clearest indication yet that the most vulnerable children in Iraq are the ones that are most likely to fall behind,” Hawkins stated.
Poor children are less likely to receive all the necessary vaccines. With half of households at risk of drinking contaminated water, all children are vulnerable to waterborne diseases.
Yet there are signs of progress: the number of children who die within a month of being born has dropped from 20 to 14 deaths per 1000 live births since 2011, that last year for which data is available.
UNICEF called on the Iraqi Government to invest in services that would improve the wellbeing of the country’s most vulnerable.
“Children are the future of this country, and a growing gap between the haves and the have nots sows discord and is detrimental for children and for Iraq” stated Hawkins. “With the right commitment and the right policies in place, the Government of Iraq can make a difference.”