UNICEF PRESS RELEASE
BAGHDAD, 20 November 2012 – On Universal Children’s Day, UNICEF calls for urgent action for Iraq’s most vulnerable children.
“One in every third child in Iraq, 5.3 million children, is still currently deprived of many of their fundamental rights,” said UNICEF’s Representative to Iraq, Dr. Marzio Babille.
“UNICEF calls on all stakeholders – in government, civil society, the private sector and the international community – to urgently invest in these children to respect their dignity and give them an equal chance to become healthy, productive young citizens of the new Iraq,” Dr. Babille stated.
Child rights violations across Iraq that need to be addressed include: inadequate access to and promotion of health services; lack of access to quality education; violence against children in schools and families; psychological trauma from years of extreme violence; discrimination; prolonged detention in juvenile facilities; insufficient attention to the special needs of children with disabilities and who are not in their family environment; and lack of access to information and participation in cultural life.
While the majority of children in Iraq experience at least one violation of their fundamental rights, around 1.7 million children, or 10 per cent of all Iraqi children, have all of their rights fulfilled.
“There are extreme disparities amongst Iraq’s 16.6 million children,” noted Dr. Babille. “Our collective challenge now is to narrow the gap between those children who are marginalized, having very limited opportunities to improve their well-being, and the children who have every opportunity to fully progress in their lives.”
“Iraq’s National Development Plan, which is currently being revised, is the ideal place to start robustly planning the expanded delivery of essential services across Iraq that will narrow this gap.”
UNICEF is working with the Government of Iraq and partners to ensure children’s rights and best interests are included in policies and that equitable approaches that prioritize the most marginalized children are adopted.
“UNICEF remains unwavering in its commitment to support the Government protect all children’s rights and build an Iraq that is fit for all children,” stated Dr. Babille.
Today is the 23rd anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which lays the foundational principles from which all children’s rights must be achieved, and calls for the provision of specific resources, skills and contributions necessary to ensure the survival and development of children to their maximum capability. Iraq ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1994.