Harsh Iraqi winter threatens lives of displaced children: UNICEF

Harsh Iraqi winter threatens lives of displaced children, warns UNICEF
2 min read
10 December, 2018
Some 161,000 internally-displaced children in Iraq were at risk due to low temperatures and floods, the UN agency for children said on Monday.
Approximately 161,000 children who live in camps or crowded shelters [AFP]
The lives of thousands of internally-displaced children in Iraq are at risk this winter, as temperatures drop and floods affect large parts of the country, the UN's children agency (UNICEF) warned on Monday.

Approximately 161,000 children who live in camps or crowded shelters and in hard-to-reach areas are vulnerable to the bleak winter.

The agency will be providing support for 151,000 displaced Iraqi children and 10,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq, UNICEF told The New Arab.

"Winters in Iraq are harsh," Peter Hawkins, UNICEF's representative in Iraq said in a statement, "It rains and snows and temperatures can fall below zero in the northern part of the country."

The agency's winter campaign sought to provide winter clothing to children aged between three months to 14 years.

This included supplying boots, scarves and hats to displaced children in Sinjar, Erbil, Dohuk, Ninawa, Anbar, Diwaniya, Basra, Salaheddin, Baghdad and Suleimaniah.

"Most displaced families live below the poverty line, in dilapidated housing with poor heating, or in camps with little protection from the cold," Hawkins said.

"It impossible to afford fuel for heating and winter clothing to keep their children warm."

Iraq and neighbouring countries were also hit by heavier-than-average rainfall in recent weeks, resulting in deaths and widespread damage.

The country's north has borne the brunt of it and the downpour had forced tens of thousands of people out of their homes.

"The devastating floods have made this winter even more difficult for displaced children who are extremely vulnerable to hypothermia and respiratory diseases," Hawkins said.

"No child should be subjected to such risks. Every child deserves to be warm and healthy."

Last month, UNICEF said it was facing a $33-million funding gap - two thirds of its total allocation - for assistance to children across the region this winter. 

UNICEF said it aims this winter to reach 1.3 million children in Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Egypt, providing them with warm clothes, thermal blankets, clean water and other hygiene support.

Agencies contributed to this report.