Reaching children in Iraq

Children are especially at risk in Iraq crisis

© UNICEF/Iraq/2015
UNICEF is helping to ensure clean water supplies by monitoring water quality and distributing chlorine, bottled water, and other supplies essential to basic sanitation to families in the most affected areas.

News from those in the region working on the behalf of children

An estimated 1 million people have found safety and temporary shelter in camps, in empty school buildings and in rural mountain hamlets in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. While some people were able to escape with bundles or suitcases to carry their belongings, many weren’t so lucky. Now those who came here for safety are facing an entirely different threat: the cold Kurdish winter, which has arrived early this year in the mountains of northern Iraq, bringing frigid winds and freezing rain, and causing people to shiver through the night. A shallow flood of muddy water has overtaken many of the camps.

Provision of supplies to date fall far short of the existing need. More must be done to provide humanitarian supplies to children, women and their families in the area.

Since January, UNICEF has delivered lifesaving assistance to 641,243 people displaced throughout Iraq.

Read more about UNICEF’s work and Iraq’s needs

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Perspectives, actions and accounts from UNICEF's team and partners

Men work on a new 15 kilometer water drainage network in Domiz Camp for Syrian refugees in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.
9 April 2016

Children test out playground equipment at a newly opened UNICEF child-friendly space in their camp in Kerbala.
3 April 2016

Children’s theatre workshops build confidence on stage and off
6 April 2016 – The stage buzzes with activity the day before opening night of a children’s play at a youth centre in Dohuk. Workers set up lighting while children jump out from behind a thick velvet curtain to practice their lines on stage with an instructor.

Providing safe water and sanitation to Syrian refugees in Iraq
5 April 2016 – “When we arrived here there wasn’t enough water, but it’s better now. We have enough for everything we need,” says Shyar, a Syrian refugee from Qamishli, Syria. Water is delivered to their dwelling in Domiz Refugee Camp in the Kurdistan region of Iraq twice a week.

Reaching vulnerable families with emergency supplies in Anbar
22 March 2016 – Amid ongoing violence and displacement in Anbar Governorate, UNICEF continues to meet emergency needs of vulnerable children in dangerous situations.

In photos: Five years of war has changed this family forever
17 March 2016 – Much has changed in the world over the past five years. Yet for a generation of Syria’s children, the suffering caused by the long and brutal conflict has continued. 

Syrians in Iraq make a new life in an old prison
16 March 2016 – When eight-year-old Murad and his family fled the conflict in Syria the last place they expected to find safety was in a prison. But after walking across the mountains to reach the Kurdistan region of Iraq, they found refuge in a camp in Akre, located a fortress-like Saddam-era detention centre.

After more than 1,300 newly displaced families arrived in Al Abbasiya Camp in Salah al-Din, UNICEF partner Janat Al-Ferdows set up water tanks, latrines and showers and distributed hygiene kits to vulnerable children and families in the camp.
15 March 2016 

“What I would most like is to leave this job and go back to school.”
14 March 2016 – Though he’s only 15 years old, school is a distant memory for Mohammed. He and his five siblings haven’t been in a classroom since they fled Kobani, Syria, three years ago and came to the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

Access to education means hope for children affected by conflict in Iraq
11 March 2016 – Despite the unseasonably sunny weather during our visit in mid-February, it was obvious from the outset that the camps for internally displaced people (IDPs) and Syrian refugees in northern Iraq are not somewhere any of us would choose to live with our families.

Providing safe, sustainable water to displaced families in Sulaymaniyah
3 March 2016 – “The water quality is very good. We don’t face any problems that we can’t solve.”

Fostering friendships across cultures
3 March 2016 – “We should love each other regardless of our religion,” says Sarwan, 13. 

A wise man serves his community
28 February 2016 – Mohammed had been a refugee for several months when the idea dawned on him. “Water is the most important thing in life. It’s the key to life and and also necessary for good hygiene, and we need both,” he says.

Polio vaccination in Baghdad
24 February 2016 – All smiles as a volunteer distributes polio vaccination information at a mall in Baghdad last week. The next polio vaccination campaign in Iraq will take place from February 28 to March 3.

Safe spaces for displaced children in Iraq
23 February 2016 – More than 3.3 million people have been displaced by conflict in Iraq since early 2014 - about half are children.

Providing warm winter clothing for vulnerable sextuplets
16 February 2016 – Emad and Astabraq didn’t expect to make the news when it came time to give birth.

“I sing about my homeland and how sweet it is.”
15 February 2016 – Hosting 15,000 people who’ve been displaced by conflict, Bajet Kandala Camp is high on a hill in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, with rolling pasture all around.

A school sacrifices to help its neighbours
15 February 2016 – “When I saw the families coming from Sinjar I cried. And then I began to contact people to come and help. Everybody I asked came with something.”

“They’re working hard to catch up.”
7 February 2016 – Seje village is high on a mountain in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, with a panoramic view of the Mosul dam.

A safe space for Syrian children in Iraq
28 January 2016 – Dozens of young Syrian children are excitedly preparing for a morning of fun and learning in a refugee camp near Erbil. 

Abandoning female genital mutilation, one village at a time
MURTKA, Iraq, 26 January 2016 — They remembered the day they were cut as if it was yesterday. Most said it happened around the age of five or six. To them, it’s the day they lost their trust in the person who brought them into this world — their mothers.

UNICEF distributed learning materials to over 346,000 children in Iraq in 2015
25 January 2016

An Iraqi boy tries to rebuild life after ISIS escape
24 January 2016 – “It has been eight months since I was displaced. And I feel that these eight months are years. I would love to go back to school.” – Ali, 13.

Reaching isolated children on Sinjar Mountain
6 January 2016 – In August 2014 this remote corner of Iraq emerged in the global spotlight when news broke that tens of thousands of people, including Falah, were trapped on Mount Sinjar, terrified and starving.

Protecting children from the winter cold in Iraq
Iraq, 5 January 2016 – Last week UNICEF facilitated the distribution of warm winter clothing to displaced children living in Baharka Camp in Iraq’s northern Kurdistan region.

Iraq makes important gains for school children
Iraq, 28 December 2015 – Iraq has taken an important step towards eliminating physical violence in classrooms, like that experienced by 12-year-old Khawla.

A refuge for pilgrims
Iraq, 14 December 2015 – In 1999 Ali Abdul Ali Nasser began giving food and a place to sleep to those making the Arba’een pilgrimage to Karbala.

Keeping children warm for winter in Iraq
Iraq, 8 December 2015 – As winter sets in, the same breeze that broke the unrelenting summer heat now forewarns of the extreme cold that will cover northern Iraq this winter.

Guided by UNICEF, a school flourishes in rural Iraq
Iraq, 6 December 2015 – Tucked away on a back street is Taq Taq Friendly School. Its brightly painted walls welcome the school’s students for another day of learning.

In Iraq, reaching families caught in the fighting
Iraq, 30 November 2015 – The memory of a turning point in life — a change, a decision — sticks with you, clear as the day it happened.

New schools open for displaced children in Kirkuk
Iraq, 26 November 2015 – With family uprooted, friends scattered, and their sense of security shattered, children who’ve fled their homes because of conflict in Iraq face tremendous challenges adjusting to displacement.

A young Iraqi uses talent and compassion to face an unfair life
ERBIL, Iraq, 25 November 2015 – Out of school, without his parents and living in a camp for displaced people, an Iraqi boy takes a creative approach to making a better future for himself and the generation growing up amid conflict.

In Kirkuk, teamwork builds tolerance
Iraq, 23 November 2015 – Of the almost 3.2 million people who’ve been internally displaced in Iraq since January 2014, more than 400,000 have fled to Kirkuk Governorate.

In Iraq, taking steps to stamp out cholera
DOHUK, Iraq, 9 November 2015 – With an outbreak of cholera threatening to spread further, UNICEF has launched a campaign to inform vulnerable communities on basic measures for prevention and treatment.

Concern over Iraq cholera outbreak prompts accelerated response
BAGHDAD, Iraq, 6 November 2015 – UNICEF is part of urgent efforts underway in Iraq to shield communities and families from the effects of a cholera outbreak that has already infected more than 2,200 people – about 20 per cent of them children -- across 15 of the country’s 18 governorates.

Celebrating a ‪‎polio-free‬ Iraq on ‪‎World Polio Day
Iraq, 23 October 2015 – In May 2015, Iraq was removed from the list of infected countries, a landmark achievement made through the continued support of WHO and UNICEF to the Federal and Kurdistan Region Ministries of Health.

School offers a chance to begin again
Iraq, 18 October 2015 – All over Iraq children are getting reacquainted with the notion of student life again, and establishing a routine which help them to process the suffering of being displaced and the violence that they’ve endured, but also give them hope for the future.

Preventing polio — and cholera — in Iraq
Iraq, 9 October 2015 – UNICEF and partners take an innovative approach to the double threat of disease facing children and families in Iraq.

Designing schools to meet children’s needs
Iraq, 1 October 2015 – As we approach a primary school in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, we see it surrounded by a neat garden and enclosed by brightly painted walls. Its hallways are clean and quiet, and children’s paintings and craft work line the classrooms.

Cultural festival connects communities
Iraq, 29 September 2015 – Now in its third year, the Amedi’s Peace, Culture and Arts Festival celebrates local traditions and highlights Amedi’s multicultural heritage.

Fighting cholera with the Ministries of Health
Iraq, 28 September 2015 – UNICEF, under the general leadership and coordination of the Ministries of Health, is conducting a public information campaign to reduce the spread of #cholera in Iraq.

Cash and the dignity of decision in Iraq
Iraq, 22 September 2015 – Cash-based assistance allows families to make their own decisions about their needs and priorities, and to do so with dignity.

“I’m happy that I can help my neighbours”: Volunteer plumbers in a refugee camp
Iraq, 22 September 2015 – “I’m happy that I can help my neighbours,” says Khadija, a grandmother, Syrian refugee, and now a volunteer plumber.

A family reunited after months of uncertainty
Iraq, 17 September 2015 – Eight months ago, Farhan and his mother, members of Iraq’s Yazidi religious minority, were kidnapped in Sinjar. For nearly three months they were moved around Iraq before being taken to Syria, where they were imprisoned for five months.

These kits save lives
Iraq, 16 September 2015 – On a hot summer day, the Hatteen sports club in the Iraqi city of Hilla, about 100 km south of Baghdad, is bustling with activity. More than 1,000 emergency kits have arrived and staff are preparing to give them out to families.

In Iraq, building a team on the field and off
DOHUK, Iraq, 16 September 2015 – A youth centre in the Kurdistan region of Iraq gives young people an opportunity to play and to learn – and also to be part of a community.

Healing through movement and art
Iraq, 14 September 2015 – “I feel the earth, I feel the sky, I feel myself.” About 30 children from Besirve Camp for displaced Iraqi citizens, near Zakho in northern Iraq, have gathered in a circle. It’s early morning and rain clouds gather above.

“We almost feel like we’re in our own home.”
DUHOK, Iraq, 14 September 2015 – Alifa smiles as she recollects her life in Syria. “I had many kinds of trees that I tended,” she says. “I grew different types of vegetables, and took care of sheep, chickens and cows. We were mostly self sufficient; we only needed to buy bread and sugar.”

Summer school gets Iraqi children back to learning
Iraq, 6 September 2015 – Over 1 million school-aged children are displaced in Iraq, of which nearly 700,000 have lost a full year of learning. This month UNICEF summer school programmes in central Iraq are helping 7,220 students catch up on missed classes.

An uncertain future for the children of Iraq
Iraq, 1 September 2015 – I haven’t been to Baghdad for three years. When I last left, I thought the country was on the right track. Things have, however, taken a sharp turn since June last year – and not in the right direction.

“I couldn’t imagine that we were finally united.”
ERBIL, Iraq, 30 July 2015 – Kidnapped by militants and held captive for months on end, a mother and son are reunited with the boy’s father. While the family now lives safely in a camp for displaced people, the emotional wounds remain – as they do for tens of thousands of children in Iraq affected by conflict.

A dangerous journey ends in sanctuary
Iraq, 26 July 2015 – An unseasonal rain shower has blown through Basirva 2, a camp for internally displaced people located in Zakho, northern Iraq, and Diban is enjoying the temporary break from the normally hot day in his tent.

Training and quick thinking saves lives
Iraq, 21 July 2015 – The day in Aliawe Camp for internally displaced people started like any other. Then disaster struck. A fire broke out.

Fawsi’s New School
Iraq, 6 July 2015 – This morning, at Dawidiya Camp for internally displaced people (IDPs), children excitedly await an important event: the official opening of their first permanent school.

Good health practices for displaced children
Iraq, 2 July 2015 – Despite have reached safety in the camp, 10-year-old Salma is one of a growing number of children who have become infested with head lice in the tumult of displacement, forcing her to temporarily leave school.

A full year of sustained violence across Iraq has hit children the hardest
30 June 2015 – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today said that over the past year in Iraq, it has seen a 75 per cent increase in grave violations against children that include killing and maiming, abduction, recruitment as soldiers, sexual violence, attacks against schools and denial of humanitarian access.

Empowering Yazidi women through photography
Iraq, 24 June 2015 – Bushra and other young women are enthusiastic participants in a photography workshop in Khanke displacement Camp. With funding from the Government of Italy, and facilitation by partners RDO, the aim of the workshop is to empower young Yazidi women through photography.

In Iraq, water brings relief
ERBIL, Iraq, June 2015 – For a grandmother and her family displaced in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, new water and sanitation facilities have helped improve everyday life.

Getting water to go uphill in Iraq
QASHAFAR, Iraq, 9 June 2015 – To reach a group of Iraqi families sheltering on an isolated plateau with no water supply, the UNICEF team takes a creative approach to water delivery.

Among Iraq’s displaced, creating safe spaces for children
ERBIL, Iraq, 11 May 2015 – For Iraqi children displaced from their homes and living in temporary shelters, a UNICEF-supported programme provides a place for them to be children again.

Campaigning for vaccinations in Erbil
ERBIL, Iraq, 1 May 2015 – The polio immunization campaign in northern Iraq, with generous funding from Rotary International, is a success story. UNICEF is fighting for polio eradication, and with Rotary funding has sent 50 teams to high-risk areas throughout the region to improve awareness of the polio campaign and routine immunization. 

Progress on Polio in Iraq
ERBIL, Iraq, 7 April 2015 – One year ago today a 34 month old girl contracted polio in a small settlement just north of Baghdad. Today, Iraq and the entire middle has gone for one full year without another child being paralyzed by polio. Going for a full year without a polio case does not mean that the outbreak response is over, but it does signify that the response was able to rapidly scale up scope and quality of services, and deliver oral polio vaccine to children across Iraq, even in conflict zones.

From Syria to Iraq, knitting their lives
DOHUK, Iraq, 12 March 2015 – A day in the life of a teenage girl in Domiz refugee camp typically includes a half day at school followed by housework and chores for the remaining of the day.

With 15 million children caught up in major conflicts, UNICEF declares 2014 a devastating year for children
NEW YORK/GENEVA, 8 December 2014 – The year 2014 has been one of horror, fear and despair for millions of children, as worsening conflicts across the world saw them exposed to extreme violence and its consequences, forcibly recruited and deliberately targeted by warring groups, UNICEF said today. Yet many crises no longer capture the world’s attention, warned the children’s agency.

UNICEF Steps up Humanitarian Response in Northern Iraq  
ERBIL, Iraq 12 August 2014 – As the humanitarian crisis continues to unfold in Iraq, UNICEF and other humanitarian actors are stepping up efforts to meet the urgent needs of up to 30,000 members of the ethnic Yazidi minority who are being extracted from Sinjar Mountain, in addition to helping meet the needs of a further 12,000 displaced people who are now sheltering in the Kurdish capital, Erbil.

UNICEF reaches displaced children in Iraq's Sinjar Province
DOHUK, Iraq, 2 July 2014 – UNICEF said today it made its first delivery of essential humanitarian supplies to Sinjar, a town in the western Ninevah Governorate of Iraq, to assist some of the thousands of people who fled there over the past few days.

Iraq information in French:

13 millions d’enfants non scolarisés à cause du conflit au Moyen-Orient et en Afrique du Nord
AMMAN, 3 septembre 2015 – D’après un rapport de l’UNICEF publié aujourd’hui, l’intensification du conflit et les troubles politiques au Moyen-Orient et en Afrique du Nord empêchent plus de 13 millions d’enfants de se rendre à l’école.

En Iraq, amener de l’eau en altitude
QASHAFAR, Iraq, 9 juin 2015 – Pour atteindre un groupe de familles iraquiennes réfugiées sur un plateau isolé non desservi en eau, l’équipe de l’UNICEF adopte une approche créative de l’approvisionnement en eau.

Quelque 14 millions d’enfants subissent les effets du conflit en Syrie et en Iraq, affirme l’UNICEF
NEW YORK/AMMAN, 12 mars 2015 – Environ 14 millions d’enfants de la région subissent actuellement les conséquences d’un conflit qui se propage en Syrie et dans une grande partie de l’Iraq, a affirmé l’UNICEF aujourd’hui.

De plus

Iraq information in Spanish:

Los conflictos dejan a 13 millones de niños sin escuela en Oriente Medio y África del Norte
AMMAN, 3 de septiembre de 2015 – Los conflictos y la agitación política cada vez más graves que sacuden Oriente Medio y África del Norte impiden a más de 13 millones de niños ir a la escuela, según un informe de UNICEF publicado hoy.

En Iraq, cuesta arriba con el agua
QASHAFAR, Iraq, 9 de junio de 2015 – El equipo de UNICEF concibe un enfoque creativo para proveer agua a un grupo de familias iraquíes que viven refugiadas en un remoto altiplano donde carecen de suministro.

Crear espacios seguros para la infancia en los entornos de refugiados de Irak
ERBIL, Irak, 11 de mayo de 2015 – Gracias a un programa puesto en marcha con ayuda de UNICEF, los niños y niñas iraquíes que viven desplazados de sus hogares en refugios provisionales tienen oportunidad de disfrutar su infancia de nuevo.


Iraq information in Arabic


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