“A generation of children of Iraq face dark future”: UNICEF
A generation of children face the bleak prospect of going without an education unless the Iraqi government, its allies and aid agencies rebuild communities torn apart by years of war, a senior U.N. children’s agency official said on Friday.
Peter Hawkins, UNICEF representative in Iraq, said recent fighting between government forces, backed by a U.S.-led coalition, and Islamic State fighters, had cut off thousands of children from school and healthcare.
“We are faced with a whole generation losing its way and losing prospects for a healthy future,” said Hawkins in an interview.
Government institutions, faced with financial deficit, are collapsing leaving them dependent on U.N. agencies to provide schools and teacher training, following more than a decade of sectarian violence, Hawkins said during a visit to London.
“What is needed is a cash injection through central government so that we can see it building the systems required for an economic turnover,” he said.
Conflict has worsened the situation across Iraq, with an estimated 4.7 million children – about a third of all children in the country – in need of assistance, the U.N. agency said in a report last month.
UNICEF said earlier this year that at least 20,000 children in Falluja faced the risk of forced recruitment into fighting and separation from their families.
“A big problem is the lack of schools, with a lack of investment in recent years meaning the systems have all but collapsed,” Hawkins said.
In an another report on 30 June 2016, UNICEF revealed that 3.6 million children in Iraq – one in five in the country – are at serious risk of death, injury, sexual violence, abduction and recruitment into armed groups.
The findings show that 4.7 million children need humanitarian aid – a third of all Iraqi children – while many families now face deteriorating conditions following military operations in Fallujah and around Mosul.
Staggeringly, a total of 1,496 children have been abducted in the country over the past two and a half years. That translates to 50 children abducted each month, with many forced into fighting or sexually abused.