Situation of children in Iraq 'a neglected crisis'

Children walk past a machine-gun in Baghdad (20 April 2013) Younger generations are "directly caught up" in the Iraq conflict, War Child says

The situation of children in Iraq is "one of the world's most neglected crises", the charity War Child says.

Ten years on from the US-led invasion, violence is increasing, life expectancy is falling and children are falling behind in education, a new report says.

Nearly 700 children and young people were killed in the last five months.

The report warns that Iraq's children are being abandoned as international donors "sign up to the view that the mission has been accomplished".

The UK Department for International Development (DfID) pulled out of Iraq in 2012, and global development assistance fell by $19bn (£12.2bn) between 2005 and 2011, according to War Child.

'Risk of total collapse'

Published on the 10th anniversary of former US President George Bush's "mission accomplished" speech, the charity's report says Iraq "has become one of the worst places to be a child in the Middle East".

Iraq has the second youngest population in the region, with children and young people making up 56% of its 33 million people.

War Child's report in numbers

  • Children and young people make up 56% of the Iraqi population
  • Nine Iraqi civilians have died on average each day since December 2012
  • More than people have been killed in the last five months
  • 51% of 12-17 year olds do not attend secondary school
  • 82% of three-five year olds are not "on track" to reach numeracy and literacy standards
  • 100 infants die each day and there are 35,000 infant deaths per year
  • More than a quarter of Iraqi children in 2010 suffered symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder

One Iraqi woman told BBC Arabic that children were still exposed to violence on a daily basis and there were no programmes designed to deal with the psychological problems this causes.

Another Iraqi man said: "They are so young and don't have the ability to comprehend what's really happening around them.

"Their lives have become meaningless. They don't know what they are doing. Most of them have become aggressive, even when they play," he told the BBC.

Although it falls into the "middle-income country" category with its significant oil wealth, War Child says there is not enough provision for younger generations who are "directly caught up in and targeted by the conflict in Iraq".

Violence has increased over the past two years and since December, 692 children and young people have been killed and another 1,976 injured in violent attacks, it says.

Children as young as 14 are being used as suicide bombers, and more than a quarter of children are estimated to suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, according to the report.

Iraqi children are falling behind in education, it adds, with fewer than half of 12-17 year olds now attending secondary school and enrolment in primary school higher than before the invasion.

There are also an estimated 35,000 infant deaths every year in Iraq, and one in four children has stunted physical and intellectual development due to under-nutrition.

Describing Iraq as having "fallen off the media map", War Child says the countries that led the 2003 invasion have abandoned its children.

The lack of aid, diplomatic pressure on Iraq's government and support for its people is "bringing the future generation down", it claims.

With intensifying violence, the charity calls on international donors to help strengthen civil society in Iraq so the government can be held accountable over provision of services.

"With the growing political differences, violence and lack of security, as well as the regional tensions created by the Syria conflict, there is a general and an inevitable risk of total collapse of the state of Iraq," War Child UK's country director in Iraq warns.


More on This Story

Iraq: 10 years on


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  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    "Sorry to seem so cold hearted but this is Iraq's problem and nobody else can solve it."

    You do know we* caused it, right?

    *Used in the loosest sense of the word.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    The Iraq invasion was the single most stupid/evil thing perpetrated recently by the west. The justification was "democracy" the reason was Saddam was selling Iraq oil to Russia & France. Despite what Mr Blair says today he knew exactly what he was doing. The Bush admin used the opportunity to enrich themselves with this blatant war/disaster capitalism. No profit there now so no further interest.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    Well look at their faces, these will be your next bombers and terrorists and we will ask how could this happen to us, WHY would anyone want to hurt us ?

    Well here is your answer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    The elephant on the coffee table is that this is by and large Iraqis killing Iraqis. Same as they were under Saddam and during the insurgency. How about that country's leaders, communities and co-religionist neighbours dealing with it and taking some responsibility for themselves.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Well obviously they should have been smart enough to make sure they got born to rich western parents, this government (and most others) isn't interested in helping anyone who isn't.

  • Comment number 27.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    Bush & Blair, no matter what their rhetoric, did not fight an illegal war on behalf of me and my family. The country of Iraq & its people were not & are not my enemy.

    And, for all those that supported the war, remember this. A war is only won when children can live in peace.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    Democracy Achieved !!

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Iraq has gone the way Syria is heading. Mission accomplished, so screw the rest of them.
    All they need to do to keep public off their backs is not to put it in the news- see no evil, hear no evil, end no evil

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    No worries. His Tonyness is the Middle East Peace Envoy. It will all be sorted in a jiffy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    War is never something to be welcomed and has a disastrous affect upon communities, but the but the Bible teaches us it is sometimes necessary.

    Ephesians 6:11-17
    Therefore, take up the full armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    it isn't just Iraq
    the children all over the world are in crisis and being ignored.

    the United States, the U.K., Canada, Philippines, Korea.

    these are just the places I've been and nowhere are the children in worse shape than the DPRK - North Korea. but that is not a secret or unknown to anyone. U.K. and U.S.A send massive amounts of foreign aid but don't save our own children and poor.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    UK/US liberation army left a mess. What a surprise.
    Let's follow up on the HR crisis in Libya shall we? Why did they attack US officers? Hmm.
    And here we are, talking about intervening in Syria.
    My god, learn from our mistakes already, stop arming rebels and get out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    People of the Middle East are fighters by nature.
    They just never stop.
    When they run out of adversaries, they fight themselves.
    This has been going on for several thousands of years.
    Do not expect them to change.
    They do not seem to want to.
    They seem to like the way they are.
    Education has been proven not to succeed in bringing change.
    Hopeless situation...

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    Perhaps the followers of the local archaic religion should concentrate more on their children, rather than blowing each other up. You can argue the war was a daft idea but the problems there today can be laid on the local lunatics. They care more for their magical sky fairy than for their children.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    In an oil rich region awash with Arabs driving Ferraris im sure that a few oil sheikhs and princes could follow their own Religion and give to the poor. Alas like our Catholic and Christian institutions who cling on to Billions while poverty occurs in their own flocks don't count on it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    In those areas where there is depleted uranium in the soil women should be offered free family planning, paid by us in the affluent west. There are wrongs that never can be righted and parts of this planet now inhospitable to human life. It is easy to lay the blame on our politicians but this is a collective shame. It won't go away anytime soon.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Absolutely appalling, I hope Tony Blair reads this report and gives it some consideration.
    He should be on trial for war crimes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    why are we worrying about children? We kill them as by-product of drone attacks, we don't worry about their lives or their parents. Why now pretend to worry about it? We, the conservatives, backed the war on a 3-line whip.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Sorry to seem so cold hearted but this is Iraq's problem and nobody else can solve it.


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