UNICEF warns of lost generation in Iraq

The United Nations has warned that Iraq is facing a lost generation because of insufficient education and healthcare for citizens who are bearing the brunt of foreign-sponsored militancy gripping the country.

"We're at risk of losing a generation through the lack of education, health and protection,” Peter Hawkins, representative of the United Nations Children's Fund in Iraq, told Thomson Reuters Foundation, a UK-based charity, on Wednesday.

"Schools, clinics, water facilities etc are deteriorating further and further which makes the life of children very difficult. (We're) seeing increasing signs of stunting. Nutrition is becoming a problem," Hawkins added.

He noted that over 2 million Iraqi children are currently out of school while up to 3 million others have had their education disrupted.

Almost one in five schools has been damaged, demolished or used for other purposes, with classes frequently being overcrowded, the UNICEF official added.

Preventing violence from depriving millions of Iraqi children of education and healthcare as well as gaining greater access to Iraqis living in areas held by the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group are among top concerns in the violence-scarred country in 2016, Hawkins said.

Approximately 14,000 teachers have reportedly fled northern Iraq due to violence there.

On Monday, Iraqi forces fully liberated the city of Ramadi, the capital of the western province of Anbar, from the grips of Daesh elements, with the Iraqi national flag being hoisted above the city’s main government complex.

Hawkins said many families, who had fled Ramadi, were living in camps in the capital city of Baghdad.

The northern and western parts of Iraq have been plagued by gruesome violence ever since Daesh mounted an offensive in the country in June 2014. The Iraqi army together with volunteer fighters has been engaged in operations to liberate militant-controlled regions.

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