NEW YORK (February 11, 2018) – Violence may have subsided in Iraq, but it has upended the lives of millions across the country, leaving one in four children in poverty and pushing families to extreme measures to survive.
Without investment to restore basic infrastructure and services for children, the hard-won gains to end conflict in Iraq are in jeopardy, according to a UNICEF and UN-Habitat assessment, Committing to Change – Securing the Future.
The conflict turned Iraq’s major cities into war zones with significant damage to civilian infrastructure, including homes, schools, hospitals and recreation spaces. Since 2014, the United Nations has verified 150 attacks on education facilities and 50 attacks on health centers and personnel. Half of all schools in Iraq now require repairs and more than 3 million children have had their education interrupted.
“Children are Iraq’s future,” said Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa. “The Kuwait Conference for Iraq this week is an opportunity for world leaders to show that we are willing to invest in children - and through investing in children, that we are willing to invest in rebuilding a stable Iraq.”
As displaced families return, many find that their homes require major repairs, exacerbating pre-conflict housing shortages in the country. In the city of Mosul, over 21,400 homes have been damaged or destroyed. The poorest families have no other choice but to live in the ruins of their homes, in potentially hazardous conditions for children. Some have taken their children out of school and put them to work. Many children were forced to fight an adults’ war.
"Children are hardest hit in times of conflict, and Iraq urban crisis recovery and reconstruction should be prioritized, adequately supported and quickly implemented, with special attention to vulnerable people, including children” said, Zena Ali Ahmad the Director of Arab Region of UN-Habitat.
At the Kuwait Conference for Reconstruction in Iraq, from tomorrow to February 14, UNICEF and UN-Habitat are appealing for firm commitments to restore basic infrastructure and services for children, including in education, psycho-social support, health and water, sanitation and hygiene, and housing.
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 190 countries and territories to put children first. UNICEF has helped save more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization, by providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. UNICEF USA supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when no children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.
UN-Habitat is the United Nations programme working towards a better urban future. Its mission is to promote socially and environmentally sustainable human settlements development and the achievement of adequate shelter for all.
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For more information, contact:
Sophie Aziakou, UNICEF USA, 917.720.1397, firstname.lastname@example.org
Erica Vogel, UNICEF USA, 212.922.2480, email@example.com
Salma Mustafa, UN-Habitat Regional Office for Arab States, Salma.Mustafa@unhabitat.org, +20 2 37618812