The children

The Situation of Children in Iraq


The Situation of Children in Iraq

© UNICEF Iraq/Najm/2012
Primary school children in Baghdad

Iraq has fallen from being one of the leading countries in the MENA region to be a child in the 1970s to being one of the furthest behind today.  If Iraq had progressed at the same average as many other countries, by 2011 Iraq would have achieved many of its MDG targets including school enrolment, infant mortality and access to safe drinking water. Instead, it is far behind on most MDG targets.  In recent years, while renewed progress has been made on many children’s issues, increased attention is further needed to achieve national development targets.              


Iraq's fourth Multiple Indicator Cluster Survery (MICS4) provides a new evidence-base on the situation of children.  The findings from a multiple-deprivation analysis of the MICS 4 data identify the most deprived Iraqi children, including the deprivations they experience and the locations they are living in across Iraq.   The findings demonstrate that Iraq’s MDG targets cannot be achieved without expanding access to services to the most deprived children and that all targets would be attained faster by focusing on the most deprived children and areas first.  


The MICS 4 preliminary findings reveal 36% of all children, around 5.7 million, face three or more deprivations at the same time. Another 30% (five million children) experience two deprivations simultaneously while 34% (5.5 million children) face just one or no deprivations.  The most deprived children are most likely in rural areas and poor households and have mother’s who have low levels of education.


Results have shown wide disparities across geographic areas with the percentage of highly deprived children (three or more deprivations) varying from as low as 16% in Sulaymaniyah to as high as 55% in Missan.   The absolute number of highly deprived children also varies from as low as 65,000 in Dohuk to as high as 860,000 in Baghdad.  Both percentage and absolute number of the most deprived children will need to be taken into consideration when designing policies and social protection mechanisms and interventions to attain Iraq’s MDG targets with equity. 


Since the last MICS in 2006, significant progress has been made for children in areas such as birth registration, immunization coverage, increased institutional delivery, gender parity in primary school and child labour. Increased attention is needed to reduce mortality rates of children under five, especially newborns, and on chronic undernutrition. Breastfeeding and reduced delay to treatment of diarrhea and acute respiratory infections remain key priorities together with children's completion of primary school, among other issues.





Did You Know?

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

Only 44% of all primary-school aged children complete on time.

4 out of 5 children experience violent forms of discipline.

1 in 5 Iraqis do not have access to the drinking water network.

1 in 3 children in Iraq have been deprived of several of their fundamental rights.

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