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DEATH TOLL OF CHILDREN SHOWS ‘MISSION UNACCOMPLISHED’ IN IRAQ
700 CHILDREN DIE IN LAST 5 MONTHS AS INTERNATIONAL DONORS CUT SUPPORT
Ten years on from George W Bush’s ‘Mission Accomplished’ speech, nearly 700 children and young people have been killed in violence in Iraq over the last five months, according to new figures published today in a report by charity War Child UK.
The report warns that Iraqi children are being abandoned by the countries that invaded in 2003 as they cut back on aid to Iraq despite increasing violence, falling school numbers and lower life expectancy.
According to Mission Unaccomplished, ten years after George W Bush’s speech on the USS Abraham Lincoln, Iraq has become one of the worst places to be a child in the Middle East:
• Violence has increased over the last two years and in recent months nearly 700 children and young people have been killed by violent attacks alone.
• Iraqi children are falling behind in education: fewer than half of 12-17 year olds now attend secondary school and enrolment in primary school was higher before the war than after.
• Life expectancy has dropped: a child born in 2011 could expect to live almost two years less than a child born in 2000.
On top of this, violence in the last week has been the most widespread since US withdrawal in 2011. The violent upsurge is following an army raid on an anti-government protest camp on April 23 in which more than 50 people were killed, triggering a huge increase in hostilities.
The report warns that the children of Iraq are being abandoned as international donors sign up to the view that the mission has been accomplished. The UK Department for International Development pulled out of Iraq in 2012 and global development assistance fell by 19 billion dollars between 2005 and 2011.
In the report War Child UK call for international donors to provide long-term support for programmes in Iraq, focused on the needs of children and young people for protection from violence, and for landmine clearance and education reform.
Mission Unaccomplished includes interviews from this month with children who grew up in the conflict.
Aesera, a 17-year-old girl, told War Child: “It is sad to see people get used to violence and gunshots… I became afraid of going out… We fear going about our daily lives… We were forced to move due to the deterioration of the security situation in Baghdad… [now] in Basra we are suffering from lack of basic services, in particular clean water.”
Sabeen, a 16-year-old girl, said: “We did not feel safe in Iraq because my father was sentenced to death… I was young, but I still remember how my family were talking about sanctions, war and other daily difficulties.”
Rob Williams, Chief Executive of War Child UK, said:
“The passing of time should not have diminished our responsibility to the children of Iraq. They were not responsible for the situation which gave rise to the invasion of their country - but they have spent their childhoods suffering the consequences of it. The traumas they face can be traced back to the Allied invasion. A big part of the solution should originate from the same countries."
“War Child has been working in Iraq since 2003 and we continue to be shocked by the persistent impact of violence and insecurity on the innocent victims of that war. Children in Iraq are being used as suicide bombers and are still stepping on landmines. Real peace has not been given a chance.
“It is not only violence that is destroying lives. Iraq’s children are being denied a quality education, are forced into early marriages and are left traumatised by things they witnessed during the height of the conflict, without access to child protection or psychosocial services.”
E n d s
Notes to editors:
1. Mission Unaccomplished is published by War Child UK on 1 May 2013. An embargoed copy is available on request.
2. The UK Department for International Development pulled out of in-country work in Iraq in 2012, with all existing projects ceasing completely by 2014.
3. Interviews are available with children in Iraq who have lived through the conflict and continue to suffer from its aftermath.
4. Interviews are also available with War Child UK Country Director in Iraq and with Rob Williams, Chief Executive of War Child UK.
5. For interviews and more details contact Leo Barasi at: email@example.com or 020 7793 4036.