Child labor doubles in Iraq as violence, displacement hit incomes
by Compiled from Wire Services
ISTANBULJul 11, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Compiled from Wire Services
Jul 11, 2016 12:00 am
More than half a million Iraqi children are estimated to be at work rather than at school as violence and displacement hurt the income of millions of families, according to the United Nations childrens' agency UNICEF. The number of children currently working, more than 575,000, has doubled since 1990, the year when Iraq attacked Kuwait, setting off a chain of events that led to the 2003 U.S.-led invasion and the sectarian strife that continues to this day. "I used to go to school and work here for half a day with a low salary,'' 12 year-old Ali Hussien Khudhair, who works the angle grinder in a blacksmith's shop in Baghdad, said. "I quit school and started working full time here and he (the owner) gives me full wages," he told Reuters TV.
"I wish to go back to school and play with my friends,'' Khudhair said. ``I would be glad to go back and learn to read and write; I will be ashamed to have to say that I can't read when I grow up."
UNICEF said since the beginning of 2014, almost 10 percent of Iraqi children - more than 1.5 million - have been forced to flee their homes because of violence. In 2014, DAESH took control of large areas in northern and western Iraq. Nearly one in five schools is closed due to conflict and almost 3.5 million children of school-age are missing out on an education, UNICEF said in a report on June 30. In total, at least 3.6 million children in Iraq are at risk of death, serious injury, sexual violence, abduction and recruitment into armed groups, an increase of 1.3 million since the past 18 months, according to UNICEF.
About 4.7 million Iraqi children need humanitarian aid, while many families now face deteriorating conditions following military operations against DAESH, according to UNICEF. "I'm working and learning the craft, it is better than school. What rights do graduates have? They are selling water on streets," 14 year-old Karrar Jaffar, who works in a car mechanic's shop, said. "The government does nothing. It's better for me to learn a craft," he said, his hands smeared with brake fluid.
Meanwhile, Iraqi forces recaptured a northern air base from DAESH on Saturday, a victory hailed by the prime minister as a key step ahead of the long-awaited operation to retake the northern city of Mosul. In a statement issued on his web site, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi described the air base in the town of Qayara as an "important base to liberate Mosul," and called on Mosul residents "to get ready for the liberation of their areas." Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, fell to DAESH militants in the summer 2014, when the extremist group captured large swaths of northern and western Iraq. In late March, Iraqi forces launched an operation aimed at dislodging DAESH from areas to the south and southeast of Mosul and gradually cutting off the city's supply lines.