The troops and the TV cameras may have left Iraq but we’re still there.
Iraq remains an extremely dangerous place to work. The vacuum left by Saddam Hussein’s regime and the subsequent occupation is being filled by insurgents and gangs as the Iraqi government struggles to exercise its power and provide basic amenities to its people.
Although the country sits on hugely valuable oil fields, this wealth does not trickle down to the majority of the people. This has left over 500,000 children out of school and many more in extreme poverty.
Iraq is probably the most dangerous and insecure country War Child is working in. Kidnappings, car bombs and assassinations are still part of daily life and many groups there are suspicious of, and hostile to, people seen to be representing the ‘West’. That’s why we rely heavily on our local staff and building strong links with the communities we’re working with.
What we're doing
The conflict and violence in Iraq has hit the education sector hard. Teachers have very little motivation as their salaries are not sufficient to provide for their families, and teaching resources are not available. As a result, even those children who are able to attend school are not receiving a high standard of education.
To help overcome this problem, War Child trains teachers in different aspects of education. This includes training in subject knowledge, teaching methodologies and child protection. Teachers are then better equipped with the knowledge and techniques that make sure kids get the best possible education.
Teaching Children Vital Skills
Many kids in Iraq do not have a formal education and did not have an easy early childhood. We’re teaching them the communication and reasoning skills that help them develop into confident young adults who are capable of asserting their rights.
Supporting the Protection of Children
We put a big focus on establishing and supporting Child Protection Committees in the communities in which we work. Through educating and training adults on issues of children’s rights and protection, communities are strengthened to support their kids. Our Child Protection Committees help the local community to identify and support ‘hidden’ children who are at risk of abuse or neglect, enabling them to act quickly to protect these kids.
They also advocate for girls' education, encouraging local adults to discuss and consider the importance of teaching girls. We also work with local religious leaders to enlist their help in spreading messages about children's rights and protection.
Helping Children and Young People in Prison
We're making sure that children in prisons are kept as safe as possible and are given every chance to get an education or vocational training. Many of the children are locked up for fairly petty crimes and are held in squalid conditions, often alongside adults. We're also training social workers and lawyers so they know how to protect children's rights as best as possible and can help the children reintegrate with their families and communities when they are released from prison.
Working with local partners
We work with a number of partner organisations in Iraq:
Al Firadows Women Group
Sara Trauma Centre
Bahjat Al-Fuad Centre
Vocational Training Centre