Iraqi refugee children trapped in poverty and fear



    World Vision calls for urgent action

    MISSISSAUGA, ON, April 16 /CNW/ - More than two million Iraqi refugees
are trapped in a cycle of poverty and fear. More than half a million of these
are school-age children, many with no access to education or psychological
support, according to research by World Vision.
    As leaders convene at the UN High Commission for Refugees conference in
Geneva, April 17-18, World Vision joins with organizations across the world
calling for a way forward for refugees in host countries such as Jordan, Syria
and Lebanon.
    During the conference, World Vision will launch a preliminary report on
the situation of Iraqi children in Jordan. The report Trapped! Unlocking the
future of Iraqi refugee children - the result of interviews with more than 100
families in Amman - highlights what it calls "a devastated and scattered
generation trapped with little hope for the future."
    Refugee children told World Vision researchers terrifying personal
accounts of their lives in Iraq. They spoke of violence, kidnappings, murder
and bombings that have wrought untold psychological damage.
    "These findings expose the harsh reality that children and refugee
families are facing," said Ashley Clements, emergency advocacy specialist for
World Vision and author of the report.
    The trauma experienced by these children has come to the attention of
local organizations but without adequate resources too little is being done
for them.
    "The plight of Iraqi refugee children is still largely a hidden crisis,
but we want to help change that," says Dirk Booy, executive vice-president for
World Vision Canada. "World Vision is calling on the international community
to ensure adequate shelter, health, education and other critical services for
these children, whose families are struggling to meet basic needs."
    Many of the children do not have access to public schools because they do
not have legal status in the host countries where they are living.
    "School is vital for these children to regain hope for the future," said
Clements. "As well as education, classes provide a safe and structured
environment for children to develop and regain a sense of normality."
    The report includes recommendations for a range of decision makers
including governments, NGOs and the UN, on how to improve the lives of these
children. These recommendations will be presented at the UNHCR conference,
calling on the international community to:

    
    -  Provide adequate funding for desperately needed education solutions,
       easing the burden on host countries.
    -  Provide Iraqi children with proper healthcare, for both their
       physical, psychological, and emotional needs.
    -  Accept increased admissions to other countries, particularly for
       families with children.
    

    "Without education, basic protection or legal employment for their
parents, these vulnerable children are facing a future of poverty and
disenfranchisement in the region," says Brian Jonson, a Canadian World Vision
aid worker in Amman, Jordan.
    Through local partners, World Vision is assisting 10,000 refugees in
Jordan with food, basic household items, health care and special education
programs for children. World Vision hopes to expand its response, as funding
is secured and additional partners identified. The organization has served
vulnerable and impoverished families in the Middle East for three decades.

    World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy organization
dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome
poverty and injustice. Motivated by our Christian faith, we serve all people
regardless of religion, race, gender or ethnicity. For more information,
please visit WorldVision.ca.

    
    Notes to editors:
    -  Copies of the report, stories and video clips are available at:
       www.iraqichildrentrapped.org
    -  The UNHCR Conference is entitled "International Conference on
       Addressing the Humanitarian Needs of Refugees and Internally Displaced
       Persons Inside Iraq and Neighbouring Countries" and takes place
       April 17-18, 2007 at the Palais des Nations, Geneva.
    




For further information:

For further information: or to arrange an interview with Mr. Booy or a
Canadian aid worker in Jordan, contact Sharon Marshall, Public Relations,
(905) 565-6200 ext. 2213, (416) 677-4354, Sharon_Marshall@WorldVision.ca


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