Explainer: Why are Iraq’s children in crisis?

A woman and child who have been forced to flee their homes take shelter in a camp for displaced people. Photo: UNICEF, Iraq, 2014, Khuzaie
A woman and child who have been forced to flee their homes take shelter in a camp for displaced people. Photo: UNICEF, Iraq, 2014, Khuzaie

1. Families have been forced to flee

In June, violence erupted in the Iraqi city of Mosul causing half a million people to flee their homes in a matter of days, up to half of them children.

Thousands of families gathered at checkpoints, many of them without adequate water, sanitation, or shelter from the scorching heat. UNICEF responded immediately with life-saving supplies for children, including clean drinking water.

In less than a fortnight, a charter plane of 33 tonnes of tents, blankets and hygiene kits arrived in Erbil to assist 35,000 displaced families.

Over the last two months, UNICEF has provided life-saving supplies to children including safe drinking water, toilets, and emergency immunisation to protect them from killer diseases.

2. The re-emergence of polio

In Alqosh, 4 girls pose triumphantly after having been vaccinated against polio and the measles. Photo: UNICEF/Iraq/2014/Khuzai
In Alqosh, 4 girls pose triumphantly after having been vaccinated against polio and the measles. Photo: UNICEF/Iraq/2014/Khuzai

In the middle of the crisis, UNICEF and WHO have also launched a massive polio vaccination in Iraq to respond to the reappearance of the devastating disease earlier this year. The campaign aims to reach over four million children under 5.

As the humanitarian crisis continues to unfold in Iraq, UNICEF is working 24 hours a day to address the urgent needs of the most vulnerable children – including the influx of refugee children from Syria.

3. Children are stranded on Mount Sinjar

children in the Bajeed Kandala camp are among displaced Yazidis who have taken refuge in the camp, which is near the town of Peshkhabour, close to the border with Syria, in Dohuk Governorate. Photo: UNICEF, Iraq, 2014, Khuzaie
Children who have fled Sinjar arrive at the Bajeed Kandala camp where UNICEF is providing emergency assistance. Photo: UNICEF, Iraq, 2014, Khuzaie

Sinjar, a district of Ninewa in northwest Iraq with a population of at least 150,000 children – including many who were already internally displaced – was taken over by the Islamic State (formerly known as ISIS) ten days ago.

More than 25,000 children fled to Mount Sinjar where they have no food, water or shelter. If they do not get water and food now they will not survive. UNICEF has reports that during the first 3 days trapped on the mountains, 56 children died from dehydration and exhaustion.

4. How you can help

stand next to humanitarian supplies, including hygiene kits and plastic buckets, their families have just received, in the Bajeed Kandala camp, Dohuk. They are among displaced Yazidis who have taken refuge in the camp, which is close to the border with Syria. Photo: UNICEF, Iraq, 2014, Khuzaie
Children stand next to humanitarian supplies, including hygiene kits and plastic buckets, in the Bajeed Kandala camp, Dohuk. They are among displaced Yazidis who have taken refuge in the camp, which is close to the border with Syria. Photo: UNICEF, Iraq, 2014, Khuzaie

UNICEF is getting emergency supplies to every child in reach. 15,000 hygiene kits and 600,000 water bottles have been distributed in Sinjar in recent days, as well as enough high-energy biscuits to feed 35,000 undernourished children in Northern Iraq.

Donate now to UNICEF

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