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Iraq: Background

Children make up almost half of Iraq’s population, which is now close to 25 million. Securing the rights of children not only guarantees the well-being of the present generation, but also that of future generations. However, many of their rights are denied, as illustrated by the following facts and figures
  • Nearly one in four children aged between six and twelve do not attend school– 31.2 per cent of girls and 17.5 per cent of boys.
  • Girls and women are facing a major learning gap. There has been a sharp decline in adult female literacy and nearly twice as many girls as boys are out of school.
  • The rate of acute malnutrition among children has dropped from a high of 11 per cent in 1996 to 4 per cent this year. However, close to 1 million children under the age of five suffer from chronic malnutrition.
  • Infant mortality today (107 deaths per 1,000 live births) is more than double what it was at the end of the 1980s. The under-five mortality rate (131 deaths per 1,000 live births) is two-and-a-half times what it was in 1989.
  • Preventable illnesses such as diarrhoea and respiratory infections account for 70 per cent of child deaths.
  • The water supply system was heavily compromized during the 1990s. Restoration work is underway, but children and women are still exposed to water-related health hazards on a daily basis. Safe drinking water is a nation-wide problem and cases of diarrhoea have increased from an average of 3.8 episodes per child/year in 1990 to nearly 15 episodes per by 1996. During the same period, typhoid fever increased from 2,240 to over 27,000 cases.
  • There is an increase in the number of children at work, as well as in the number of orphans needing state assistance which existing institutions are unable to provide.
  • There has been a sharp increase in maternal mortality because women are not getting emergency obstetric care for complications during pregnancy and childbirth.



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