Children in Iraq
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History of Iraq

More information on the history and background as to the context of the conflicts in Iraq.


Although there is less violence in Iraq, it has been affected by conflict for decades. Violence initially escalated in 1991 forcing over 6 million Iraqi’s to flee. Since then and as a result of subsequent conflicts, 4.1 million people are internally displaced 2.6 million of which are children. 

Decades of prolonged conflict and instability have worsened an already fragile country, making it a risky place to be a child. With such high rates of displacement and instability, many children become susceptible to early marriage, child labour, separation, exploitation, abuse and psychological distress. Access to schooling is sparse and children continue to miss out on an education that could give them the chance of a better future, and as tensions grow and armed groups rebel against the Iraqi government, sanitation, food and water are becoming scarce as communities and families continue to be torn apart. 

What is the population in Iraq? 
40 million  

What is the national language in Iraq? 
Arabic and Kurdish 

What is the capital city of Iraq? 

*Red pins show areas where we work. 

Iraq Today

While violence and war had significantly declined by 2018, with more than 3.5 million people returning home, a lack of infrastructure across the country and in communities made coming home a challenge. COVID-19 only served to further stunt the progress that had been made following years of war and political turmoil, and now threatens the lives of millions of people. Today, across the country the rights of children are still being systematically denied, with 8.5 million now at risk of being isolated at home and forced into child labour and early marriages to help their families survive. The failure to form a government as a result of the October 2021 elections, Iraq's political climate remains fragile.

History of Iraq

Brief historical summary of key events.



President Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr forced to resign by Saddam Hussein.


Period from 1980 - 1988

Tension arises between Iran and Iraq over border disputes and territory.


Period from 1990 - 1991

The Gulf War caused many to flee, particularly Kurds who were forced to flee to the South and seek refuge in the mountains. The Iraqi uprisings occur caused by ethnic and religious tensions led by Shi'ites and Kurds against Saddam Hussein.



Kurdish Regional Government is established in the south.


Period from 1998 - 2001

US begins launching major air strikes on Iraq.


Period from 2001 - 2003

The 9/11 attack prompts the US and UK to invade Iraq under Operation Iraqi Freedom despite the UN finding no evidence of weapons of mass destruction. France, Russia and Germany oppose their use of force. Saddam Hussein is captured by US forces.


Period from 2004 - 2005

Mass suicide bombings occur in Iraq. War Child enters Federal Iraq in 2004 and sets up programmes to help at-risk families and children.


Period from 2006 - 2009

Saddam Hussain is executed, and later UK ends combat operations and US troops withdraw.


Period from 2010 – 2011

Remaining US troops depart from Iraq and parliamentary elections take place electing Nouri al-Maliki, but a new insurgency escalates prompting a renewed war.


Period from 2013-2015

Armed groups seize control of Iraq and major cities. In 2014, War Child enters Kurdish region of Iraq.



War with armed groups ends in government victory.


2018 - 2022

Violence is at record low for over 10 years. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the loss of income for millions of Iraqis and in 2021, schools could not re-open. 2022 was marked by a failure to form a government as a result of the October 2021 elections leading to politically motivated violence.

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