UNICEF and UN-Habitat announced on Sunday that one in four children in Iraq suffers from poverty as a result of the ongoing conflict against the Islamic State, which has “pushed families to extreme measures to survive."
In a joint statement, both UN bodies called for “urgent investment to restore basic infrastructure and services for families and children," warning that without such steps, the “hard-won gains to end the conflict in Iraq are in jeopardy."
”Children are hardest hit in times of conflict, and Iraq's urban recovery and reconstruction should be prioritized, adequately supported and quickly implemented, with special attention to vulnerable people, including children,” Zena Ali Ahmad, Arab Region director of UN-Habitat, was quoted as saying.
According to the statement, the conflict in Iraq led to “significant damage to civilian infrastructure” such as homes, schools, hospitals, and recreation spaces.
It added that the UN verified 150 attacks on education facilities and 50 attacks on health centres and personnel since 2014, noting that half of schools in Iraq require repairs and more than 3 million children “have had their education interrupted."
Meanwhile, the two UN agencies said that the “poorest families have no other choice but to live in the ruins of their homes” after they return to them, which is a “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 adult's war," noted UNICEF and UN-Habitat.
They referred to the example of Mosul that saw either destruction or damage of more than 21,400 homes.
In December 2017, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi declared final victory over the Islamic State (IS) militants after the latter captured roughly third of the territory three years earlier.
The statement comes one day ahead of the Kuwait Conference for Reconstruction in Iraq that will take place from 12 to 14 February.
UNICEF and UN-Habitat stressed that, during the conference, they will call 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 Chairman of the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Ali Al-Ghanem, said that 1,850 companies from 50 states will participate in the conference, Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reported on Sunday