Survey on Iraqi Children Launched
Catherine Wiesner, IRC child specialist, with girls in Kirkuk. (Photo: Bob Kitchen/IRC)
The International Rescue Committee is taking part in a comprehensive assessment of the needs of children and the risks they are facing in post-conflict Iraq. The nationwide survey, launched last week by UNICEF, the IRC and four other implementing partners, will help the aid community design effective emergency response measures, as well as build long-term policy and practices for child protection in the country.
Children continue to suffer from the ongoing insecurity in the country, and from the new hazards created as a result of the war. Malnutrition and disease, such as diarrhea caused by contaminated water supplies, are common problems. Children are maimed and injured daily by unexploded munitions and the collapse of the previous administration has led to increased social and economic pressure on families and children. Anecdotal evidence indicates that abductions of children are talking place, and that the war has increased child labor and other forms of exploitation.
"We are identifying particularly vulnerable children, as well as local structures that can support them," says IRC child specialist Catherine Wiesner. "We will also be able to respond to immediate needs as we identify them."
The IRC is assessing the two southern provinces of Qadissiya and Najaf, as well as Kirkuk in the north. Other regions are being surveyed by partner organizations. Priorities will be given to areas that have experienced conflict, displacement or economic hardship. The final report will be presented in November.
In the past, the IRC has been an implementing partner for UNICEF education and child protection programs in Albania, Burundi, Congo Brazzaville, East Timor, Guinea, Ingushetia, Kosovo, Liberia and Sierra Leone.