More than four million children have been impacted by extreme violence in Iraq, many robbed of their childhood and forced to fight on the frontlines, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on 19 January 2018.
“Last year alone, 270 children were killed,” said UNICEF Regional Director Geert Cappelaere following a recent visit. “Some will bear the physical and psychological scars for life due to exposure to unprecedented brutality,” he added, pointing out that over one million children were forced to leave their homes.
Violence is not only killing and maiming children; it is destroying schools, hospitals, homes and roads. Poverty and conflict have interrupted the education for three million children across Iraq. Some have never been inside a classroom.
“In one of the schools that UNICEF recently rehabilitated in the western parts of Mosul, I joined 12-year-old Noor in class. She told me how her family stayed in the city even during the peak of the fighting. She spoke of her fear when she was taking shelter. She lost three years of schooling and is now working hard to catch up, learning English with other boys and girls,” said Cappelaere.
“The children of Iraq, like all children around, the world have the right to learn and aspire to a better tomorrow. The children of today are tomorrow’s teachers, doctors, engineers and scientists. Investing in them now is an investment in Iraq’s future,” he underscored.