All 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.
Justice for Children A lack of implementation of the law and a system that isretributive rather than restorative, including an overuse of deprivation of liberty, poor conditions and lack of services while in confinement, a low age ofcriminal responsibility, and a significant increase in the number of children detained since December 2015 creates a situation of significant deprivation for children in detention.
Gender Based Violence (GBV)Pervasive GBV against women and girls, and in particular sexual violence and exploitation, family violence, forced and child marriage, continue to take place. Fearsof harassment, and stigmatization, including honour killing, remain real obstacles to seeking justice for GBV survivors.
Grave Violations of Child Rights. Conflict related violence has continued unabated, exacerbated by years of conflict in the country. According to the UN’s Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM) in Iraq, killing and maiming of children is the most widespread grave violation of child rights. In addition, the UN has verified 271 cases of child recruitment and use of by parties to the conflict since 2014.
Unaccompanied children Over the course of the conflict, incidents of unaccompanied minors or children separated from their parents has seen a significant upward trend. In addition, at least 10% of children who are registered as being unaccompanied children are of foreign nationality Deprived of a caregiver, these children are among those most vulnerable to violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect.
Birth Registration for Children under ISIL ControlBefore the conflict, Iraq’s national birth registration rate was above 99%. However, the situation changed dramatically when ISIL took control of wide areas of Iraq. Children were born in areas under ISIL control where no official birth registration system was functional, and up to 25% of children under 5 in those locations have no documentation. This lack of civil documentation will have long term effects on children’s ability to access basic education, health, and social welfare services.
Lack of Child Protection Systems, Psychosocial Support and Case Management Services Hundreds of thousands of children have been exposed to violent conflict and displacement, with many experiencing multiple displacements which further exacerbates their vulnerability. High level of exposure to violence and displacement is detrimental to any child’s psychosocial well-being, and available psychosocial and mental health services are concentrated mostly in camps, and do not therefore meet Iraq’s growing needs
Improving legal, policy, and institutional frameworks for child protection.
Laws and policies to create and support a safe environment and a robust protection system must be child-centred, in line with international standards, and be consistently implemented. Institutions with the mandate to protect children or respond to their experiences of violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect must be strengthened. Work also needs to be done to strengthen the Iraqi public’s confidence in the ability of institutions to protect children
Increasing availability of child protection services.
There is a shortage of case management and other specialized services to assist children suffering from abuse, exploitation, neglect and violence. Access to services must be also be equitably distributed, including to disabled children.
Changing attitudes toward and practices of violence against children and women.
Harmful social norms discourage children and families from seeking and getting assistance. Engaging communities in order to change deeply rooted behaviours is a critical component of changing attitudes and practices, so that children and families become aware of their rights and of the availability of services that can assist them.
By 2024 children, adolescents and women, especially the most vulnerable, are protected from violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect, in accordance with international standards. The bottlenecks addressed by the programme include a weak and outdated legal framework, and an acute shortage of an experienced and well-trained social service/child protection workforce across mandated government departments (the Police and the Health, Justice, Education and Welfare Ministries, at national and local level).
Priority will be given to the strengthening of child rights-related legal and policy frameworks and gender-sensitive procedures, and aligning them to international standards, the establishment of child protection institutions and a modern social workforce.
A main approach is addressing gaps in technical guidance and oversight in effective child protection and prevention, and in strengthening response to genderbased violence among the front-line workforce, including by case management. More data will be collected, and data will be better used through the development of Child Protection Information Management Systems.
UNICEF will provide support for improved quality multisectoral, gendersensitive child protection prevention and response services, case management and other specialized services for children without parental care. Specifically, social welfare and justice systems, schools and health facilities will be platforms to prevent and detect cases of abuse, violence and exploitation and play a role in promoting birth registration, preventing child marriage and ensuring referral and care for affected women, girls and boys, including those with disabilities.
UNICEF and its partners will provide crucial psychosocial support and referrals to specialized mental health services for children, adolescents and their caregivers to help them overcome their prolonged exposure to traumatic experiences. 40. Communication for development strategies will promote improved practices at community level, create demand for services in education and health and reduce harmful practices such as violence against children, child marriage, female genital mutilation/cutting and gender-based violence.
In collaboration with its sister United Nations agencies, UNICEF will continue to engage government and other key actors to halt and prevent grave child rights violations, especially killing and maiming. UNICEF will support strengthening of existing system for monitoring, reporting and responding to violations of child rights in armed conflict, including prevention, rehabilitation and reintegration.