Iraqi Minister of Human Rights stated that the actual number of orphans in the country was 1.45 million and not the 5 million previously stated in unofficial media reports.
With Iraq’s population sitting at about 31 million people as of last’s year’s estimates, orphans constitute about 4.7% of the country’s total population. Orphans make up 9.9% of the country’s child population of about 14.7 million.
When using international measures, “orphan” refers to a child that has lost one or both of his/her biological parents. According to the Minister, more than 400,000 Iraqi children have lost their mothers. There are also 770,000 children that have lost their fathers. An estimated total of 200,000 children have lost both of their parents.
The Minister also warned that the number of orphans could increase in the coming times as the fighting in the country continues. Vulnerable and war-affected children living in Iraq face a variety of challenges on multiple fronts. Poverty, single-parent households and environmental threats continue to be serious sources of vulnerability.
As per the United Nations Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF), 2011 Humanitarian Action for Children: Building Resilience, “Iraqis must contend with threats of drought, decimated infrastructure and a large population of refugees and internally displaced people.”
For many children, war and violence have become an inescapable part of their daily lives. Information from UNICEF states that armed groups operating in the country are using children as scouts and lookouts, as well as to man checkpoints, transport explosives/equipment and plant bombs.