The children of Iraq are in crisis. An estimated 800,000 were orphaned by the end of the Iraq War.

The invasion by ISIS displaced more than 1.3 million. Thousands work on the streets, in homes, or in businesses.

They are why the Iraqi Children Foundation (ICF) exists: to intervene on their behalf with love and hope.

On Giving Tuesday, 3rd December, all new monthly donors will receive a 100% match on their first donation, and the ICF is competing for a share of $500,000 in matching funds.

Thank you for your ongoing support!

By John Lee.

The Iraqi government is denying thousands of children whose parents have a perceived Islamic State (also known as ISIS) affiliation of their right to access an education, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said.

The children, who were born or lived in areas under the control of ISIS between 2014 and 2017, lack the civil documentation the Iraqi government requires for school enrollment and the government is making it difficult for them to acquire it.

More here.

(Source: HRW)

On the 30th anniversary of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, UNICEF launches an online petition asking decision-makers to invest more in Iraqi children

This week, UNICEF Iraq launched its #Pledge4Children petition to kick off its celebration of the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child, or CRC.

The CRC is the most ratified human rights treaty in history and the most comprehensive set of rights for children. When world leaders came together, in a rare moment of international unity, to adopt the CRC, they committed themselves to fulfilling their obligations by ensuring that every child and adolescent is able to exercise his or her full rights.

The Government of Iraq signed up to the convention in June 1994.

“By ratifying the convention, Iraq committed itself to making sure every child is protected, educated, and able to lead a healthy and fulfilling life,” explained UNICEF Iraq Representative Hamida Lasseko.

Tremendous progress has been made since then, despite years of conflict and instability in the country. More, however, still needs to be done to ensure that children in Iraq are protected and have their full rights as enshrined in the CRC, including their right to education, play, freedom, and safety.

In order to do so, UNICEF Iraq is asking the Iraqi public to endorse its #Pledge4Children online asking decision-makers to reaffirm their commitment to children’s rights.

“We are calling on all of you to show your support for children and adolescents in Iraq. Every voice counts. We want you to add yours to our campaign by signing our petition and pledge for children today,” added Ms Lasseko.

The pledge calls for decision-makers to:

  • Increase public investments in quality health care, quality education, and safe water, so that every child and adolescent has a fair chance to reach his or her full potential
  • Listen to children and adolescents impacted by our policies and services and take their voices into consideration when formulating policies that impact their lives
  • Ensure that children are protected from all forms of violence and abuse

#Pledge4Children is part of UNICEF’s year-long run of activities, workshops and partnerships to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the CRC and raise awareness about children’s rights in Iraq.

Listen to Ms. Lasseko’s full message in this video & Sign the petition and #Pledge4Children to call on Iraqi leaders to commit to fulfilling the rights of every child in Iraq and invest more in children.

(Source: UN)

By John Lee.

Iraqi and Kurdistan Regional Government authorities have charged hundreds of children with terrorism for alleged Islamic State (also known as ISIS) affiliation, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said, adding that the prosecutions are often based on dubious accusations and forced confessions obtained through torture.

The 53-page report, “‘Everyone Must Confess’: Abuses against Children Suspected of ISIS Affiliation in Iraq,” shows that Iraqi and KRG authorities often arrest and prosecute children with any perceived connection to ISIS, use torture to coerce confessions, and sentence them to prison in hasty and unfair trials.

International law recognizes children recruited by armed groups primarily as victims who should be rehabilitated and reintegrated into society.

More here.

(Source: HRW)

The government of Japan has donated US$3.4 million to provide lifesaving health and nutrition assistance for vulnerable children in conflict affected areas in Iraq.

Approximately 4.2 million people have returned to their homes after fleeing the violence that erupted in 2014, however many find their homes and communities have been reduced to rubbles and essential health services overstretched.

“Across all conflict affected governorates, hospitals have been destroyed and those that are functioning are overwhelmed and struggling to meet health and nutrition needs, placing the lives of the most vulnerable children at risk of deadly diseases, including polio and measles,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative to Iraq.

“Japan has recently decided on a new assistance package for Iraq amounting to 63 million US dollars, including this project as contribution in health and nutrition sectors. With this package, the total amount of Japan’s assistance to the people affected by the crisis in Iraq reaches 500 million US Dollars,” said H.E. Mr. Naofumi Hashimoto, Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of Iraq said.

UNICEF is grateful to the Government of Japan in their unwavering support to vulnerable children and families in Iraq. Since 2015 UNICEF Iraq has partnered with Government of Japan to support the needs of children caught in cycles of violence.

The latest funding of US$.3.4 million will compliment Japan and UNICEF’s investment for Iraqi children by building the capacity of health workers, strengthening health systems in conflict affected governorates as well as providing immunization and nutrition services to nearly 1 million children and breastfeeding mothers in areas of returns as well as in the camps for displaced people.

(Source: UN)

The Iraq Education Cluster Strategy is a consultatively developed document that outlines the Cluster’s approach and operational plan for responding to the current emergency in Iraq.

This strategy is intended to guide partners in their implementation of an effective, timely, and quality emergency response. It allows for better communication of the needs of crisis-affected children to various stakeholders.

The Iraq Education Strategy is meant to serve as a basis for quick decision-making that all partners have contributed to, understand and are committed to; helping ensure predictability and mutual understanding during an emergency response.

The strategy combines not only the HRP and the 3RPfor 2019 but takes into consideration the plans of other cluster partners that are not included in these two planning frameworks.

Click here to download the report.

(Source: ReliefWeb)

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq is torturing children to confess to involvement with the Islamic State (ISIS), according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Children told Human Rights Watch that in 2017 and 2018, security officers, known as Asayish, used beatings, stress positions, and electric shock on boys in their custody. Most said they had no access to a lawyer and they were not allowed to read the confessions Asayish wrote and forced them to sign.

More here.

(Source: HRW)

As Nadia Murad (pictured), the Yazidi activist and survivor of gender-based violence is honored with the Nobel Prize for Peace, UNICEF is calling attention to the plight of hundreds of thousands of internally displaced children in Iraq whose lives are threatened by freezing temperatures and floods that have affected large parts of the country.

“As the world celebrates Nadia Murad’s incredible story of survival and her work for human rights, let us remember that there are many vulnerable children in Iraq who still need our support, even if the worse of the violence may be over” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative in Iraq.

Winters in Iraq are harsh. It rains and snows and temperatures can fall below zero in the northern part of the country, where a majority of Yazidi and other displaced children live. Most displaced families live below the poverty line, in dilapidated housing with poor heating, or in camps with little protection from the cold. It impossible to afford fuel for heating and winter clothing to keep their children warm.

“The devastating floods have made this winter even more difficult for displaced children who are extremely vulnerable to hypothermia and respiratory diseases. No child should be subjected to such risks. Every child deserves to be warm and healthy,” added Mr. Hawkins.

UNICEF is providing winter clothes, including boots, scarves, and hats to approximately 161,000 children in Sinjar, Erbil, Dohuk, Ninawa, Anbar, Diwaniya, Basra, Salaheddin, Baghdad and Suleimaniah, including through cash support.

UNICEF’s winter campaign aims to reach the most vulnerable children aged between three months and 14 years living in camps for the internally displaced and in hard-to-reach areas.

(Source: UN)

It’s here! #Giving Tuesday! 

Make a high impact gift to Iraqi orphans and vulnerable children today.

How? $40,000 is available in matching funds for education, nutrition, legal protection, medical care, and psychosocial support for orphans, street kids, and displaced children.

Donate $25, $50, $100, or more and get a 100% match PLUS, for every $25 donated, a girl or boy gets a gift of a doll or soccer ball.

Watch this video:  Their smiles belong to you!

(Source: Iraqi Children Foundation)

Deep inequality continues to shape the lives of children in Iraq

A comprehensive survey on children’s wellbeing in Iraq released today found that conflict and inequality remain defining features of childhood. A majority of poor children are not receiving any form of government assistance. Even as the fighting has subsided, 80 per cent of all children experience violence at home or in school.

While almost all children (92 per cent) are enrolled in primary school, just over half of children from poorer backgrounds complete their primary education. The gap widens in upper secondary school, where less than a quarter of poor children graduate, compared to three-quarters of children from wealthier backgrounds.

Children’s education needs in Iraq are vast: half of all public schools in the country require rehabilitation and one in three schools run multiple shifts, squeezing children’s learning time. The five governorates with the lowest school enrollment and attendance rates are concentrated in the country’s southern governorates which remain its poorest, and in Anbar and Ninawa – the two governorates that have borne the brunt of the violence of the last few years. Attending school regularly is an essential part of healing for the more than 1 million children estimated to require psychosocial support to cope with the invisible wounds of war.

“The data is the clearest indication yet that the most vulnerable children in Iraq are the ones that are most likely to fall behind,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative in Iraq. “The hard-won gains to end the conflict in Iraq and transition to a stable future could be lost without additional investments for all children to reach their full potential.”

Iraq has made notable progress on newborn and child health, including maintaining high levels of assisted births and reducing the number of children who die in their first month of life from 20 deaths per 1000 live births to 14 since the last survey was conducted in 2011. But the challenges arise soon after birth: Only 4 out of 10 of children are fully vaccinated, with the poorest children missing out the most.

Half of all Iraqi households are at risk of drinking contaminated water and less than 40 per cent of the population has access to drinking water at home, placing children at grave risk of waterborne diseases.

“As Iraq moves past the violence of the last few years and forges a new path for itself, it must prioritize the wellbeing of all children,” said Hawkins. “Children are the future of this country, and a growing gap between the haves and the have-nots sows discord and is detrimental for children and for Iraq. With the right commitment and the right policies in place, the Government of Iraq can make a difference.”

To maintain Iraq’s recent gains and protect the rights of all children, UNICEF calls on the Government of Iraq to invest in services that directly benefit those children affected by conflict and poverty, and to work towards putting an end to all forms of violence against children.

(Source: UNICEF)