A crisis within a pandemic: the case of violence against children in Iraq

At least 15 children lost their lives on 19 July 2021 in Iraq

Innocent Kafembe - Communication Specialist - UNICEF Iraq
Women and children's in smoked land
UNICEF/UN0213861/Romenzi
04 August 2021

At least 15 children lost their lives on 19 July 2021 in Iraq, following the explosion of a device at Al-Wahailat market in the northeast of Baghdad. Sadly, this is not an isolated case, and children continue to lose their lives to incidents of violence in Iraq. In January 2021 alone, UNICEF estimated that at least one child had lost their lives and more than 10 had been injured in various cases of violence against children.

This scourge is not occurring as isolated acts of violence. According to the Multiple Indicator Survey (MICS6) 2018, 4 out of 5 children in Iraq experience violence at home or in school. Despite the decrease of hostilities in Iraq, the culture of violence continues and children heavily bear the brunt.

Children have the right to be protected from violence, exploitation, and abuse. Hundreds of thousands of children in Iraq, including internally displaced children and refugees, need protection from violence, exploitation, abuse, and neglect.

Children Walking to School
UNICEF/UNI156279/Noorani
Children walking to the school

UNICEF is working with government and non-government actors to strengthen the National Child Protection System in both the Federal and Kurdistan regions of Iraq. This includes mapping and assessment of the child system in Iraq to identify strategic priorities to strengthen the national child protection system and to improve access to the quality of the continuum of child protection services, legal and policy reform. This mapping will serve to align national laws with international standards and with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and strengthen the capacity building of the social welfare workforce.

At the community level, UNICEF continues to support the strengthening of formal and informal structures to aid local-level initiatives to prevent protection-related risks and ensure strong structures to help in the identification and referral of at-risk children for appropriate support.

UNICEF works with community members, children, adolescents, and families to provide information on the impact of harmful social practices in order to change deeply rooted behaviors, attitudes, and practices.  

UNICEF will continue to support the Governments in both the Federal and the Kurdistan Region with a shared vision that by 2024 children, adolescents, and women, especially the most vulnerable, are protected from violence, exploitation, abuse, and neglect, in accordance with international standards.

The time to end violence against children in Iraq is now!