UN report: Two million Iraqi children face disease, poverty
David Edwards and Adam Doster
Published: Friday December 21, 2007

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While violence is slowly subsiding in parts of Iraq, living conditions are still deplorable. According to a new U.N. Children's Fund estimate, two million children in Iraq face the “unrelenting threats of poor nutrition, disease and no school.”

“Iraqi children were frequently caught in the crossfire of the conflict this year, with hundreds losing their lives or injured by violence,” the agency said. “Many more had the main wage-earner in their family kidnapped or killed.”

UNICEF determined that only 28 percent of Iraqi 17-year-olds completed their final school exams this year. As more families sought shelter in safer Iraqi regions or other countries, an average of 25,000 children per month fled their homes this year.

Security concerns and mass displacement have made it difficult to raise funds and deliver needed aid. UNICEF only received $40 million towards its $144 million appeal for Iraq this year, spokeswoman Veronique Taveau told a news briefing in Geneva. But the U.N. Children's Fund thinks there is a window of opportunity for more aid to reach Iraqi children in 2008.

"Iraqi children are the foundation for their country's recovery,” said Roger Wright, UNICEF's special representative for Iraq. “We continue to owe them our very best in 2008 and beyond.”

A BBC clip details this depravity through the stories of two teenage boys. The first is a 13-year old whose growth was stunted by poverty. Instead of attending school, he sells cans of oil on the black market, and has little ambition. The second survived a bombing, but was badly wounded. "This is a glass eye," he says. "I can't see with it. There's still shrapnel in my heart and I have wounds caused by shrapnel all over my body."

Read the whole story HERE.

This video is from BBC.co.uk, broadcast on December 21, 2007.