The children

The Situation of Children in Iraq


The Situation of Children in Iraq

© UNICEF Iraq/2015/Khuzaie
Families flee conflict in Ramadi in late 2015

Iraq was once one of the best places in the MENA region to be a child. But since the 1970s the country has lost traction and fallen far behind. If Iraq had progressed at the same rate as many other countries, by 2011 it would have achieved a number of its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) including school enrolment, infant mortality and access to safe drinking water. Instead, it has missed most MDG targets when they expired in 2015.

Iraq's fourth Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS 4) conducted in 2011 provided a new evidence base on the situation of children in the country. The findings from a multiple-deprivation analysis of the MICS 4 data identified the most underserved Iraqi children, including details of their location and the deprivations they experienced. The most deprived children were found in rural areas, from poor households, and had mothers with low levels of education.

Since MICS 4, regional conflict has adversely affected the development and well-being of children, beginning in 2012 with the arrival of almost 250,000 Syrian refugees into the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

This was followed by the eruption of conflict within Iraq in early 2014. Both events have thrown children’s lives into chaos, disrupted education for millions of children, and made them more vulnerable to deadly diseases such as polio and cholera.

As of mid-2016, 3.4 millions Iraqis - almost 10% of the population - are now displaced, and millions more are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. This massive internal displacement, as well as conflict-related economic decline, have put enormous strain on the host communities and strained social systems. 

Many parties to the conflict are engaged in gross human rights abuses and the number of grave violations against children has doubled over the past 12 months—girls who are captured face gender based violence and boys are recruited to fight or work on the front lines. Violations of international humanitarian law are widespread, including indiscriminate attacks on civilians and the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. Attacks on hospitals and schools are frequent, and the denial of humanitarian assistance and disruption of basic services such as water and electricity have been employed as a weapon of war.

Even taking into account its troubled history, Iraq now faces a humanitarian crisis of unprecedented magnitude, and the most vulnerable of all are children.






Did You Know?

3.6 million children in Iraq (1 in 5) are at serious risk of death, injury, sexual violence, abduction, and recruitment into armed groups.

1 in 3 children in Iraq (4.7 million) are in need of humanitarian aid.

Almost 10% of all children in Iraq have fled their homes because of conflict since early 2014.

240,000 Syrian refugees are currently taking shelter in Iraq.

975,000 girls in Iraq got married before the age of 15 - twice as many as in 1990.

1 in 4 children suffer from stunted growth due to chronic malnutrition.

4 out of 5 children experience violent forms of discipline.


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