Children have paid a heavy price in the fight to liberate Mosul. Thousands of children have been separated from their parents. They often wander alone and afraid among the rubble leaving them susceptible to abuse. Additionally, they have experienced a lot of trauma and need psychological support. Protecting children and helping them be reunited with their families or finding them a new home should be a priority of the Iraqi government. However, Iraq does not have the resources to support Iraqi children and as they continue to push ISIS out of Iraq they inadvertently deepen the crisis of lost children as families are forced to flee.
08/01/2017 Iraq (Reuters) – Thousands of children have been separated from their parents in the nine-month battle for Mosul and the preceding years of Islamic State rule in northern Iraq – some found wandering alone and afraid among the rubble, others joining the refugee exodus from the pulverized city.
In some cases their parents have been killed. Families have been split up as they fled street fighting, air strikes or Islamic State repression. Many are traumatized from the horrors they have endured.
Protecting the youngsters and reuniting them with their families is an urgent task for humanitarian organizations.
“These children are extremely vulnerable,” said Mariyampillai Mariyaselvam, a child protection specialist with UNICEF (the United Nations Children’s Fund). “Most have gone through a very painful history.”
Nine-year-old Meriam had left her family one day last October to visit her grandmother in west Mosul, then under Islamic State rule. The government offensive to recapture the city began, so she stayed there.
Her father Hassan told Reuters he had been a policeman but quit when the radical Islamists seized Mosul in 2014, fearing he would be targeted. He, his second wife, along with Meriam and her three half-siblings moved from dwelling to dwelling.