Iraqi children caught in cycle of violence as conflict escalates, UNICEF warns

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UNITED NATIONS, June 22 (APP): The intensifying conflict in Iraq
over the past three years has left the country’s children trapped in
a grinding cycle of violence and poverty, an assessment out Thursday by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has warned, calling on the warring parties to immediately end hostilities.
“Across Iraq, children continue to witness sheer horror and
unimaginable violence,” Peter Hawkins, the UNICEF Representative in
the country, said in a statement on the launch of the new assessment.
Entitled Nowhere to Go, the assessment underscores that more than
five million children in the country are in need of urgent humanitarian
aid.
“They have been killed, injured, abducted and forced to shoot and
kill in one of the most brutal wars in recent history,” Hawkins
emphasized.
In west Mosul, children are being deliberately targeted and killed
to punish families and deter them from fleeing the violence. In less
than two months, at least 23 children have been killed and 123 have
been injured in that part of the city alone, according to UNICEF.
Among others, the assessment on Iraq outlines that since 2014:
1,075 children have been killed, 152 in the first six months of this
year; 1,130 have been maimed and injured, 255 in the first six months
of 2017; and more than 4,650 have been separated from their families.
In addition, over the same three-year period, there have been
138 attacks on schools and 58 on hospitals; over three million children
miss school on a regular basis while 1.2 million are out of school; and
one in every four children comes from a poor household.
For nearly four decades, Iraq has faced violence, war, sanctions
and instability. But in the last three years alone, conflict has
displaced three million people – half of them children. Many parts of
the country were turned into war zones with civilian infrastructure
severely damaged or destroyed. Half of all schools in Iraq are now in
need of repairs.
As life opportunities for children dwindle, UNICEF continues to
respond to their growing needs and those of their families.
Pointing out that all warring parties owe it to the children of Iraq
to end the violence, UNICEF is appealing for an immediate end to the conflict. The agency is also calling for all children affected by the
crisis to have access to unimpeded and sustained humanitarian assistance and basic services; and for children in detention to have access to legal protection and services in line with international standards of juvenile detention.
UNICEF also requesting an end to all grave violations against
children, including killing, maiming and recruitment, and an end to
attacks on civilian infrastructure; freedom for all families to move,
should they wish to flee or return to home; and increased investments
to improve the quality of education, healthcare and protection services
for all children.
Finally, the agency called for sustained humanitarian contributions,
noting its funding gap of $100 million for lifesaving emergency
operations in Iraq and to support children returning home to resume
their lives.