Approximately half of Iraq’s population is under 18, and the age of the refugees looking for safety in Syria is representative. According to the BBC,
Syria provides greater services to the Iraqis, but even there the UN says that only a fraction of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugee children there are able to attend school.
The troubles for Iraqi children range from difficulty adapting to the schools in Syria, to conflicts with their new classmates, to things far worse. Although we have not yet uncovered stories to reflect this, according to Forbes, Amnesty International released a statement suggesting that,
some Iraqi refugee families have even resorted to forcing their daughters into prostitution to help the family survive. Child prostitution and trafficking of Iraqi children is said to be growing, Amnesty said.
Further indicating the desperate and difficult nature of the crisis are conflicting reports about the availability of education to Iraqi refugees in Syria. We spoke with children who had no trouble getting into schools in Syria, and others who were denied entrance because they did not have the proper paperwork to verify their grade. As quoted above, the UN has stated that many of the refugee children are unable to attend school in Syria. However a week earlier, Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees L. Craig Johnstone urged Iraqi refugees to send their children to school, stating,
The Syrian government allows your children to register in public schools. Make the most of this opportunity; send your children to school.
As the tide of refugees continues to increase, confusion and miscommunication are sure to continue. At Alive in Baghdad we will do our best to keep you updated on the difficulties facing Iraqi refugees. Please consider making a donation toward Hayder Fahad’s salary, and that of our entire Alive in Baghdad team. If you have comments or suggestions, let us know!