Displaced Iraqis sitting in a school building in the Debaka refugee camp, on the outskirts of Erbil, Iraq | Photo: ARCHIVE/EPA/AHMED JALIL
Displaced Iraqis sitting in a school building in the Debaka refugee camp, on the outskirts of Erbil, Iraq | Photo: ARCHIVE/EPA/AHMED JALIL

A report issued by the UN on Monday states that an estimated 355,000 internally displaced children were not attending school in Iraq at the end of 2019. The UN is calling on the Iraqi government to revise regulations and practices concerning education for children who were prevented from going to school during the years their areas were under Islamic State (ISIS) control.

Two years after the official defeat of the terrorist group Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq, an estimated 355,000 internally displaced children are still not in school, according to a UN report released on Monday


The report underscores how badly the situation affects the futures of children who may never be able to make up the years of school that they lost. 

Difficult life in IDP camps 

1.4 million people, including 658,000 children, fled to displaced persons camps during the fighting in Mosul. Many camp inhabitants told UN officials that they could not enter and exit the camps freely and that this prevented many daily activities. For children, this means not being able to attend school outside the camps. 

One boy told a UNAMI (that's the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq) officer on a visit to the camps that some of the children no longer knew how to read and write, since it had been so long since they were last in a classroom. He added that the children and adolescents in the camps were not getting any help to change this situation and that he did not envisage any sort of future for himself. 

'Life and future of young generations severely impacted' 

Another problem, according to the report, is that it is difficult for these children to get the necessary identification documents to enrol in public schools. 

"Inclusive, quality education is not just a right in itself. It is a 'multiplier' right - one which enables children and youth to realize their other human rights too. [Education] literally has the power to transform lives and make dreams come true. The importance of education for children and young people cannot be overstated. When this right is violated, their lives and futures are severely impacted,'' Michelle Bachelet, High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva, noted. 

Though the Iraqi government has adopted measures to ensure access to education, the UN report noted that additional provisions were needed. Its recommendations include: ''targeted education interventions for children and young adults who lived in areas controlled or influenced by ISIL (ISIS), including provisions to enable them to enrol without the required documentation, receive additional assistance to sit exams, and obtain certificates, including in IDP camps." 

Moreoever, the report recommends recognizing "the critical need to address the 'knowledge gap' caused by years of missed education due to armed conflict and displacement" as well as finding accessible methods to deliver education to those who have missed out on it. 
 

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