Iraq Debates Children in EU

Iraqi Turkmen Front EU representative Dr. Hassan Aydinli attended the Delegation for relations with Iraq Meeting at the EU Parliament in Brussels on 18th October 2012. On the agenda of the Iraq Delegation Meeting was the Exchange of views on conditions of children and Children Rights in Iraq. 

The key speaker was Dr. Marzio BABILLE, UNICEF representative for Iraq, he was accompanied by Dr. Subhash MISRA, United Nations Children’s Fund Iraq. Several members of UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund – Brussels Office) also attended the meeting. 

ITF EU representative Dr. Hassan Aydinli discussed the situation of the Turkmens with Dr. Marzio BABILLE, he spoke of the need to open a UNICEF Office in Kirkuk, like the ones already opened in Baghdad and Erbil. Dr. Babille said that UNICEF had plans to open one in Kirkuk in the near future. 

He informed Dr. Aydinli that he had met with Mr. Hasan TURAN, the head of the Kirkuk provincial council, when he was in Kirkuk. Dr. Babille also told him that he would be going back to Iraq on the next day. Dr. Aydinli wished him success in his Mission. 

The meeting was chaired by MEP Struan STEVENSON. 

Summary of the Meeting 

The Chair began the Meeting by pronouncing a firm condemnation of the barbaric attack by the Taliban on Malala, the young Pakistani girl, he said that the EU Parliament will never allow violence against the weak. 

He also condemned female genital mutilation and girl labour. Afterwards Mr. Stevenson spoke of the Iraqi children’s difficult situation, especially the thousands of orphans who need urgent attention as many of them are victims of human trafficking and sexual slavery. 

He also deplored the fact that Al-Quaeda is using children in Iraq. He said that children are being kidnapped for ransoms in Iraq and that if the parents are unable to pay the ransom, these children are killed. The Chair said he was concerned about the grave deterioration of children’s health in Iraq due to heavy metal and Depleted Uranium used by the US and UK military during the war and occupation of the country. 

Mr. Stevenson then introduced the UNICEF representative for Iraq, Dr. Marzio BABILLE, and said that it was a great opportunity to have him at the Meeting. Dr. Marzio Babille is a Medical Doctor with Postgraduate Degree in Advanced and Clinical epidemiology by the New England Epidemiology Institute at Tufts University, Boston, USA, with a Master’s degree in Public Health, the University of Leeds, U.K., and he holds a Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, he also has Postgraduate Fellowship in Emergency Medicine and Trauma and a Specialization in Internal Medicine. 

The Chair said that Dr. Babille is a most highly qualified guest with experience in conflict zones. Dr. Babille has participated in emergency planning, coordination and relief operations in various countries, such as Libya, Chad, India, the Sahel regions of Chad, the Jammu & Kashmir, the assistance to Iraqi-Kurdish IDPs and refugees in north-western Iran, Ethiopia, etc. Dr. Babille, joined the Iraq Country Office in his capacity of UNICEF representative in February 2012. 

After that, the Chair asked Dr. Babille what the EU can do to help the Iraqi children. Dr. Marzio BABILLE started his presentation by saying that he and Dr. Subhash MISRA, Chief of Planning, Monitoring & Evaluation, UN Children’s Fund Iraq, have prepared the presentation and the documents which will be distributed during the Meeting. 

He spoke of the MICS 4 (The Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey collects data on the well-being of children including the status of children’s health, nutrition, education, child protection and other indicators related to children’s fundamental rights) which is the largest household survey to be carried out in Iraq to date and is the second Government survey to gather data at the district level. 

He said that more than 800 people were mobilized by Iraq’s Central Statistics Organization and the Kurdistan Regional Statistics Office to assess a representative sample of around 36,000 households across the country, the largest ever. In total, over 55,000 women were interviewed with information collected on over 36,000 children under the age of five. 

 Dr. Babille said that there is need for Equity Strategy: Identifying the Most Deprived, (for children and women’s rights). He said that one in three children is deprived of several rights. Dr. Babille added that wide disparities of most deprived exist between and within Governorates and that Iraq needs wide private partnerships and collaboration for new policies. 

Dr. Babille then spoke about the northern part of Iraq (Dohuk, Erbil, Ninewah, Kirkuk, and Salaheddin) which has a mixed population of Arabs, Turkmens and Kurds, where there is need to enhance national dialogue. He said that UNICEF is starting an interesting programme of Community Dialogue and added that this was important for Turkmens in particular. 

Dr. Babille said that he had personally visited Mosul and Kirkuk. Regarding the ’disputed areas’, Dr. Babille said that Governance of the two regions of Iraq (Central-South) and the northern region of Kurdistan has several positive elements but it has potential of resulting in uneven development. Besides, in the ‘disputed areas’ a child is likely to be deprived and affected in many ways as the duty bearers are to organise the administrative roles and responsibilities. 

If the Government cannot, for political compulsions, address the ‘disputed areas’ and provide for additional funds, the development agencies and donors need to consider support for the child there. UNICEF is mindful of such situations and data collected through MICS 4 provide ample evidence for planning in deprived districts in disputed areas and elsewhere in the country. 

The access to basic services is weak across the board and this requires improving as growth and development of children will depend on it. UNICEF supports quality essential services for health, education, water & sanitation and will continue to do so in the most deprived governorates and districts based on the equity analysis, but it is not possible for UNICEF to do so alone. 

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