Charity urges donors not to forget “neglected” Iraqi kids

A new report from UK-based charity War Child has warned that the situation of children in Iraq is “one of the world’s most neglected crises”, and urged international donors not to believe that “the mission has been accomplished”.

A decade after the US-led invasion of Iraq, the report says that violence is increasing, life expectancy is falling and that children are falling behind dramatically in education. According to War Child, close to 700 children and young people were killed in Iraq in the last five months alone. Iraq has become “one of the worst places to be a child in the Middle East”, the report said, citing the lack of aid, diplomatic pressure on Iraq’s government, and support for its people, as “bringing the future generation down”.

“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 warned.

Iraq currently has the second youngest population in the Middle East region, with children and young people making up 56 per cent of its 33 million people. According to the charity, since December 2012 692 children and young people have been killed and another 1,976 injured in violent attacks.

Fewer than half of Iraqi children between the ages of 12 and 17 are now attending secondary school, and 82 per cent of three to five year olds are not “on track” to reach numeracy and literacy standards. In addition, 100 infants die each day and there are an estimated 35,000 infant deaths every year in Iraq, while one in four children has stunted physical and intellectual development due to under-nutrition.