Report: Iraqi Children Face Harsh Realities as Refugees

A new report launched this past week revealed that Iraqi children seeking refuge in neighboring countries are too often denied the education and psychological support needed after their traumatic war experience.

Christian international aid agency World Vision urged global action as it launched its new report Trapped! Unlocking the future of Iraqi Refugee Children in Geneva last Tuesday. WV, joined by other non-governmental organizations at the U.N. High Commission for Refugees conference, call on the Commission and the global community to increase its attention and aid to the more than half a million school-age children living in host countries such as Jordan and Syria.

"These findings expose the harsh reality that Iraqi children and families are facing in the region," said Ashley Clements, emergency advocacy specialist for World Vision and author of the report, according to WV. "The needs of children must be front and center as the world addresses this refugee crisis."

Iraqis have fled the country in scores totaling more than 1.8 million people after the 2003 U.S.-led offensive. Most notably, nearly half of those seeking asylum in neighboring countries and elsewhere are Christians who make up only about three percent of the 26 million people in Iraq.

According to the report, refugee children experience terrifying events of violence, kidnappings, murder and bombings during their life in Iraq but too often are not provided the psychological help they need to overcome the traumatic experience.

In addition, refugee children face the added problem of being denied access to public schools. Often the local schools are already overcrowded and refugee families lack legal status in host countries.

"Social is vital for these children to regain a healthy routine and some social interaction," explained Clements. "Beyond the obvious educational benefits, daily classes provide a safe and structured environment to address the social and psychological needs of children who are currently isolated."

The report recommends the following actions for government, the U.N. and the aid community to improve the lives of refugee children:

• provide adequate funding for needed educational solutions to ease the stress on host countries
• provide Iraqi children with proper health care for both physical and psychological needs
• accept increase admit admission to other countries, particularly for families with children

World Vision is currently working through local partners to assist 10,000 refugees in Jordan with food, basic household items, health care and education programs for children. The organization has served in the Middle East for three decades.

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