The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has estimated that more than half a million Iraqi children are at work instead of going to school as a result of the decline in family incomes due to violence and displacement.
According to the agency, the number of children currently working has increased to more than 575,000 children since 1990.
Ali Hussien Khudhair, 12, works as an angle grinder in a blacksmith’s shop in Baghdad. He told Reuters: “I used to go to school and work here for half a day with a low salary but then I quit school and started working full time here and he (the owner) gives me full wages.”
“I wish go back to school and play with my friends,” Khudair said.
UNICEF said since the beginning of 2014, almost 10 per cent of Iraqi children or more than 1.5 million have been forced to flee their homes because of violence. In 2014, Daesh took control of large areas in northern and western Iraq.
The UN agency said that 20 per cent of Iraq’s schools were forced to shut down due to the conflict, with some 3.5 million school age children unable to obtain an education.
According to UNICEF estimates, at least 3.6 million Iraqi children are at risk of death, serious injury, sexual violence, abduction and recruitment into armed groups, an increase of 1.3 million in the past 18 months.