The information below is based on the Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council (A/68/878–S/2014/339) issued on 15 May 2014.
2013 was marked by a significant increase in the number of security incidents, resulting in the killing of 7,818 civilians, including at least 248 children. This is the highest number of casualties reported since 2008. The most affected governorates were Baghdad, Kirkuk, Ninewa, Diyala, Anbar, Wassit and Salahaddin. The Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) and Al-Qaida in Iraq (AQ-I) were allegedly responsible for most of the documented incidents.
Reports from the governorates of Anbar, Ninewa and Salahaddin indicated the continued association of children with various armed groups, including AQ-I. In addition, continued reports were received on boys manning the checkpoints of the Awakening Councils under the control of the Ministry of Defence after having been recruited locally with falsified identification papers. Reporting is limited due to issues of access, insecurity in relevant areas, and the reluctance of authorities to release information on perpetrators. I note that Iraqi law prohibits the recruitment of children into Government forces and encourages its criminalization, in line with obligations under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict.
As at December 2013, according to the Government, at least 391 children, including 18 girls, were being held in juvenile reformatory detention facilities (237), prisons or police stations under indictment or conviction for terrorism-related charges under article 4 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (2005). The children had been detained for periods ranging from two months to more than three years. Schools and learning programmes were established in four juvenile detention centres in the governorates of Baghdad, Thi-Qar and Basra with the support of the Ministry of Education and UNICEF.
According to the Government, 335 children were killed and 1,326 others injured in 2013. The United Nations, in 167 verified incidents, recorded 248 children killed and 665 others injured, including as a result of improvised explosive devices and in complex attacks. AQ-I was reportedly responsible for most of the incidents. On 11 March 2013, in Dibis district, Kirkuk governorate, the explosion of a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device caused substantial damage to an adjacent secondary school and injured 106 students (70 boys and 36 girls, between 13 and
17 years of age). Assassinations and raids targeting members of the Awakening Council, police officers or military personnel and their families were also on the rise, resulting in the killing of 13 children and the injuring of 18 others in direct or indirect fire.
Twenty-seven attacks on schools and hospitals/medical facilities were reported, of which five were verified. Most were a result of improvised explosive devices placed inside or in the vicinity of schools and hospitals in the governorates of Baghdad, Anbar, Diyala and Ninewa. On 6 October, in Qabak village (Ninewa governorate), 15 children were killed and at least 112 injured by a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated in the playground of the primary school. The head of the school and an unknown number of teachers were also killed. On 27 June, in Baquba district (Diyala governorate), five ambulances were destroyed in the explosion of a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device as they arrived to a scene where many civilians, including children, had been killed and injured in a previous improvised explosive devise attack on a popular café. No one claimed responsibility for any of those incidents.
The United Nations also verified the killing or injuring of 13 education personnel and 16 medical staff. In an incident in Diyala governorate, on 1 August, a medical doctor was killed and his two children wounded in an improvised explosive device attack against their house by AQ-I, reportedly because he refused to issue falsified death certificates for the armed group. Threats against teachers, particularly in Diyala governorate, are a growing source of concern. For example, in December, flyers were spread in Diyala threatening English language teachers in primary and secondary schools. No one claimed responsibility for the incident. At the same time, a threat was publicized in social media targeting medical personnel and medical facilities.
On 28 November, in Wassit governorate, the 10-year-old son of a member of the local human rights committee was abducted and found dead, with apparent signs of torture. Owing to the sensitivity and suspicion involved in collecting information on abduction cases from communities or authorities and the reluctance of families to report to the police, abductions are believed to be underreported.
Interaction on child protection between the United Nations and the Iraqi authorities continued at the national and local levels throughout 2013. However, it remains a serious source of concern that the Government of Iraq is not adequately addressing the impact of the ongoing conflict on children. I urge the Government to take all measures to ensure an adequate response to the plight of children, including through the adoption of laws criminalizing violations committed against children by parties to the conflict. The United Nations in Iraq stands ready to further engage with the Government in tackling the issue. Due attention must be given to the detention of children under security charges. Legislative reform and appropriate policies and programmes for the overall protection of children in armed conflict, including the engagement of community, religious and tribal leaders, should also be addressed. The implementation of a high-level Government interministerial committee on children and armed conflict, as advocated for by my Special Representative during her meetings with Government representatives during her visit to Iraq in July 2013, would facilitate regular information-sharing on and response to grave violations against children, as well as collaboration with the United Nations in Iraq.
Parties in Iraq
- Islamic State of Iraq (ISI)/Al-Qaida in Iraq (AQ-I)a, b,d