Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Post-Holiday Worries, Here and There

While we might be worrying about how to lose those extra pounds we gained during the holidays from indulging in too much yummie food.

Or if auntie Clara will be forever cross with us if we exchange that horrendous statue she somehow thought would fit in nicely with our living-room decor (or, more likely, she gave us because she didn´t really know what else to get us - but some Christmas present had to be bought, right?).

Or how to redeem that tie rack gift card ("Good grief, not another tie!").

In other words, while we are dealing with the basic problems of a typical consumption society, there are plenty of people around the world who would desperately wish to have that kind of post-holiday worries.

Not that they have to worry much about holidays in the first place, since day-to-day survival is their primary concern.

The following is an excerpt from the press release of the upcoming UNICEF report on the situation children in Iraq are faced with.

If there is no future for the children, how is there supposed to be a future for the country?

Little respite for Iraq’s children in 2007

But window to reach more vulnerable families opening for 2008

ERBIL/AMMAN/GENEVA, 21 December 2007: An estimated two million children in Iraq continue to face threats including poor nutrition, disease and interrupted education.

Iraqi children were frequently caught in the crossfire of conflict throughout 2007. Insecurity and displacement continues to cause hardship for many in the most insecure parts of the country and further eroded access to quality essential services country-wide. Iraq remains volatile; however conditions begin to allow for more a concerted effort to deliver assistance.

“Iraqi children are paying far too high a price,” said Roger Wright, UNICEF’s Special Representative for Iraq. “While we have been providing as much assistance as possible, a new window of opportunity is opening, which should enable us to reach the most vulnerable with expanded, consistent support. We must act now.”

Available information from different sources shows that:

  • Only 28 per cent of Iraq’s 17 year olds sat their final exams in summer, and only 40 per cent of those sitting exams achieved a passing grade (in south and central Iraq).
  • Many of 220,000 displaced children of primary school age had their education interrupted, adding to the estimated 760,000 children (17 per cent) already out of primary school in 2006.
  • Children in remote and hard-to-reach areas were frequently cut off from health outreach services.
  • Only 20 per cent outside Baghdad had working sewerage in their community, and access to safe water remains a serious issue.
  • An average 25,000 children per month were displaced by violence or intimidation, their families seeking shelter in other parts of Iraq.
  • By the end of the year, approximately 75,000 children had resorted to living in camps or temporary shelters (25 per cent of those newly-displaced since the Samarra shrine bombing in February 2006).
  • Hundreds of children lost their lives or were injured by violence and many more had their main family wage-earner kidnapped or killed.
  • Approximately 1,350 children were detained by military and police authorities, many for alleged security violations.

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