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 52.

    "Why didnt we say all this crap before we had our tanks rolling down their streets.Its time to pick up the tab and we all want out"

    We did but the two amigos did it anyway. So we have been picking up the tab for ten years. Problem is the Koran thumpers do not care about children. Girls are future baby factories and boys are future martyrs and that is all they care about. Money wont change that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    This rant by War Child may have some credibility if they directed it at the peole actually doing the killing. Of course that might be a bit dangerous for them and likely end up with a bullet between the eyes!

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    22 - Praise Him.

    Answer me this. One man has no God, but lives his whole life as a humanitarian,ie, he is honest, achieves good deeds, is charitable & leaves a positive mark on mankind when he dies.

    Another man is the worst kind of man for all of his life, but he has a God &
    repents with his last breath.

    If Bush & Blair were the latter, would they go to Heaven & the former to Hell?

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    Religion causes wars, it doesn't solve them. This world would be more technologically advanced and harmonious without imaginary magic pixies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    44.The Rockabilly Red
    Here's an idea - how about Iraqis stop blowing each other's kids apart, stop blaming everybody else for their religeous intolerance, and dealt with each other in a civilised manner?

    Here is another idea for you .. Why didnt we say all this crap before we had our tanks rolling down their streets.Its time to pick up the tab and we all want out .

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    Whilst aid to Iraq has reduced over the last couple of years it is still in excess of $2 billion dollars per year for a population of 33 million, You can shovel money in there but it does'nt mean that the Iraqis are going to do any thing constructive with it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    22.Praise Him
    I wouldn't bring the bible or religion into this. Most of the fighting & killing on this planet is done by humans in the name of sky fairies. If, and hopefully when, religion finally p****s off the world will be a better place.

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    I'm appalled at some of the flippant comments. How would we feel if it were our own children? It is a fact that Iraq & Iraqi people are much worse off since Blair & Bush invaded this country using the excuse of WMDs which we now know never existed. I have always been incensed that my taxes were used in this way. As a country we have a debt to pay.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    Here's an idea - how about Iraqis stop blowing each other's kids apart, stop blaming everybody else for their religeous intolerance, and dealt with each other in a civilised manner?

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    Here's another reason Iraq should never have been invaded back in 2003. Now the children are paying the price for this obscene undertaking by the Bush Administration in order to replace the Saddam Hussein regime with another U.S. backed pseudo-democracy which is apparently not working! When will we ever learn?

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    The Iraqi's need to look after their children and not the world? It is a simple as that? The UK simply cannot look after its own children and teenagers? Do we need to be concerned about others?

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    I think it's about time that some Western leaders got a couple of things into their heads:

    1. My enemy's enemy may also be my enemy

    2. Nobody will thank me for intervening based on my sense of what is right

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    @29.The Bloke

    Saddam was helped into power by the west, kept in power by the west and taken out of power by the west. The wests armys roll down their roads bringing them democracy, but yes you are right now is just the right time they took "responsibility for themselves". Really its us that need take some responsibility look at Iraq today .Thats us and America who did that ...

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    33 - AndyC555.

    There is a very clear difference between WW2 & the illegal invasion of Iraq. The former was "black & white",ie, the allies understood what they were fighting for, there was concensus & I suspect that the enemy knew that they were the aggressors.

    The latter however, did not have concensus, morality, or even victory.

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    Iraqi's were killing Iraqi's long before the western intervention & fall of Saddam. And so it goes on.... Ditto other areas in the M. East, Africa and elsewhere. The constant charge it's all the fault of the USA, UK etc is historically illiterate. In some cases our intervention was stupid & ill advised eventually compounding the problem. The solution? Leave them to it. We have enough issues here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    30. I_am_back -Poverty has little to do with breeding terrorists, the 9/11 hijackers all came from affluent families and the 7/7 bombers had it easy compared to these poor children. What lies ahead for these kids has been in progress for the past thirty years of a bad leader and interference and aggression from the Laurel and Hardy of western politics.

  • Comment number 36.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    The wealthy in Iraq are ignoring the pleas of the poor and vulnerable much in the same way our Government ignore the pleas of people in this country who have to chose between food and heating.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    Sorry, War Child, I can't help you - I completely disagreed with the illegal Iraq war and had nothing to do with it.

    I suggest you ask Blair and Bush what they're going to do about the situation given that it's arisen as a result of their egotism and hubris.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    The deaths of children are never acceptable in conflict, there are no exceptions to that ever"

    The D-Day landings were preceeded by bombing and shelling that tragically but inevitably led to civilian casualties, including children.

    Perhaps you could outline your alternate strategy to help rid Europe of Nazi oppression (which of course included the murder of countless children)


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