Iraq is an unstable country with many widows, orphans and vulnerable children. The causes are diverse; among them are poverty, war, terrorist attacks and resulting consequences of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship which caused many deaths, and which caused many unstable families due to the death of one or both parents. According to the latest estimates of the Ministry of Planning, the statistic indicated that there are more than (700,000) orphans throughout the country.Widows face the daunting task of supporting their families without proper education, without job skills, and with no knowledge of how to enter the world of employment. Children who lose one or both parents, face a life that is bleak, leaving them with no father to feed them, or no mother to wipe their tears, or no roof over their heads; some children are left with no parents and no home. Single mothers are faced with caring for families with no education or training to prepare them, with no means of providing food and shelter, and with no idea where to turn for help.
- Many children in Iraq are coerced into the “worst forms of child labor” as identified by the International Labour Organization (ILO). These include recruitment into armed conflict, use in illegal activities such as drug trafficking, forced begging, domestic work as a result of human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
- Growing poverty has increased the number of parents forced to give their girls up for marriage.
- More than 575,000 children worked instead of going to school in Iraq in 2016.
- Approximately 75 percent of Iraqi children age 5 to 14 attend school, but attendance rates are unevenly distributed. In governates that have experienced violence, up to 90 percent of children are out of school.
- Problems such as poverty, lack of education and a shortage of economic opportunities increase child labor. Children living in rural areas are more likely to work than those living in cities due to the stark divide in poverty levels. About 39 percent of people living in rural areas in Iraq live in poverty while only 16 percent of urban dwellers are impoverished.
- ISIS has consistently used children as suicide bombers and soldiers.
- The worst forms of child labor can have physical and psychological effects on children. Because children are still developing, children risk stunted growth and physical atrophy as well as behavioral issues from performing physical labor. Performing hard labor in industries such as agriculture also involves working with dangerous equipment, carrying overly heavy loads and working with dangerous chemicals and pesticides. Being exposed to violence and cruelty as a young child can also result in psychological problems.
Iraqi Children’s hope (I.C. Hope) focus on making a long-term impact for Iraqi Orphans families enabling them to thrive educationally and economically, thus improving their quality of life and their hope for the future.