BAGHDAD — More than four years after the United States invaded Iraq, the country's children continue to face a litany of problems from disrupted educations to unsafe drinking water, detentions and violence, UNICEF reported Friday.
Violence and displacement often kept Iraqi children out of school this year. The organization estimates that 2 million educations were interrupted, especially among primary-school students.
The report says that only 28 percent of 17-year-olds in Iraq took final exams this summer, and fewer than half passed. However, UNICEF-supported programs to distribute classroom materials, rebuild schools and provide more learning opportunities benefited 4.7 million children, the agency reported.
Health took a hit, too, as children living in remote areas were faced with poor nutrition and diseases such as cholera. Those living in remote areas were often cut off from health services, although a door-to-door immunization campaign protected 4 million from polio and 3 million from measles, mumps and rubella.
The full report, based on statistics from UNICEF, Iraq's government and the U.S. military, will be released in early 2008.
UNICEF spokeswoman Claire Hajaj said the United Nations children's agency is better poised to help next year, thanks to security improvements, better organization among aid groups and more awareness of the issues facing Iraqi children.
"Improved security does not equal secure, but it has lifted people's spirits here," Hajaj said. "Humanitarian agencies are working in Iraq now, capitalizing on the ability to work together. There's a renewed will and recognition of humanitarian needs in Iraq."
Among the preliminary report's findings:
(Gumbrecht reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader.)
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Read the UNICEF preliminary report.