ICF Comes to the Rescue of Iraq's Most Vulnerable Children

June 30, 2016

The Iraqi Children Foundation (ICF) announced today the launch of an ambitious initiative to come to the rescue of Iraq’s most vulnerable children.  The new project provides life-changing legal protection along with access to education, health care, food, and psychosocial support.  

“ICF is committed to dramatically expanding our efforts to care for desperately poor orphans, street children, and children who have been displaced by ISIS,” said Mohammed Khudairi, ICF’s Vice President for Iraq.  “Children who are out of school, working on the streets or in other abusive or inappropriate places are at great risk of being recruited and victimized by criminals or extremists, and human traffickers.  We just cannot stand by while this crisis unfolds.”

The project, launched with approximately $70,000 in seed funding from generous donors at ICF’s “Dine for Hope” in Dubai and the “IN THEIR SHOES” 5K in the Washington, DC, area, is focused on access to education, health care, food, and other social services, as well as legal protection for children caught up in Iraq’s criminal justice system.  Through the following strategies, ICF hopes to help up to 2,000 at risk children:

  • Legal documents. Helping displaced orphans and street children get missing legal documents – such as ID of Civil Status and Certificate of Nationality – opens the door to education, food and other benefits.  For lack of approximately $20 worth of documents,
    children are barred from enrolling in school and accessing governmental food and financial benefits.  So without these simple documents, far too many children are left with little choice but to go to work to support their families. Occasionally, other documents may be needed such as a Birth Certificate or a Certificate of Custody which a widow may need so her children can access the inheritance of their deceased father and avoid working.
  • Legal protection. Many at risk children get caught up in an Iraqi criminal justice system that is ill-equipped to handle juvenile cases.  Children who are arrested and lack legal aid are often held for months before trial in detention centers, reformatories, and homeless shelters.  Children between 9 -14 years of age are of special concern.  Some of these kids are subject to abuse in detention and some kids unjustly detained in human trafficking cases are actually victims, not criminals.  Consider one case in which two boys were arrested for stealing a short cable near a government facility.  They were detained for 8 months with no legal aid and no court hearing. When their case finally came before a judge, he immediately dismissed it, setting them free.  Eight months in the lived of these boys were wasted.
  • An early-warning system and training. Recruiting and training special teams of community leaders to identify cases of potential abuse and danger for children will serve as an “early warning system” and alert social workers and others to the need for intervention.  Educating children in how to protect themselves will also
    serve as an important prevention strategy.
  • A team of social workers with hearts and hands of compassion. Iraq’s most vulnerable children need so much more than legal aid and documents.  They need someone who takes responsibility to ensure they actually go to school, get basic health and dental care, and receive mediation services at home if there is domestic abuse, and so much more.  The goal is to provide “wrap around services” to each of these at risk kids.

ICF invites everyone with a heart for Iraq’s most vulnerable children to join this life-changing initiative.  Interested?  Email us at cindy@iraqichildren.org.  Make a one-time donation or – better yet – start monthly donations.  Or consider organizing your own fundraiser as others have done through birthday parties, holidays, selling Girl Scout cookies, or running events.  Be creative!  Be generous. ICF thanks you on behalf of the children we serve.

Sara Morse