- Only 28 per cent of Iraq’s 17 year olds sat their final exams in summer, and only 40 per cent of those sitting exams achieved a passing grade (in south and central Iraq).
- Children in remote and hard-to-reach areas were frequently cut off from health outreach services.
- Only 20 per cent outside Baghdad had working sewerage in their community, and access to safe water remains a serious issue.
- Approximately 1,350 children were detained by military and police authorities, many for alleged security violations.
(extract of UNICEF Iraq update April 2007)
As the first quarter of 2007 draws to a close, Iraq’s humanitarian emergency has reached devastating proportions, with children bearing the brunt of the crisis.
As of 5 February, Iraq was re-added to UNICEF’s official list of emergency countries, a decision which instantly prioritizes Iraq for supply requisitions and other forms of support.
- Whether displaced or trapped by violence, the toll on children is increasingly severe.
- Normal elements of childhood are “on hold” in the worst affected areas, with children unable to go to school or even play with their friends without fear. The psychological fallout for children forced to live in such stressful conditions for long periods can only be imagined, leaving a lasting and damaging legacy as they move towards adulthood. A survey by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Government of Iraq notes that 30 per cent of Iraq’s children are suffering psychological problems.
- Education, water and sanitation and preventative health care services are all being gravely affected. Schoolchildren and teachers continue to show determination to make it to school across Iraq, albeit sometimes sporadically. But the quality of learning is a concern, with many schools having to hold double or even triple shifts to accommodate extra pupils arriving from other areas.
- A recent survey supported by UNICEF estimates that at least 800,000 children were out of school in 2005/6, even before the current displacement and insecurity (63 per cent of them girls).
- Immunization rates are also on the decline, as insecurity curtails access to primary health care.
- Children are also increasingly in need of alternative sources of safe drinking water. National water and sanitation systems are suffering as a result of under-investment, electricity shortages and long-term damage to pipes and treatment facilities. UNICEF joined other UN Agencies this month in raising concerns that diarrhoea rates were rising in children, with an outbreak possible during the summer.