mardi 23 octobre 2012

ITF EU representative Dr. Hassan Aydinli met with UNICEF representative for Iraq, Dr. Marzio Babille, at the EU Parliament in Brussels

Iraqi Turkmen Front EU representative Dr. Hassan Aydinli attended the Delegation for relations with Iraq Meeting at the EU Parliament in Brussels on 18th October 2012.

On the agenda of the Iraq Delegation Meeting was the Exchange of views on conditions of children and Children Rights in Iraq. The key speaker was Dr. Marzio BABILLE, UNICEF representative for Iraq, he was accompanied by Dr. Subhash MISRA, United Nations Children’s Fund Iraq. Several members of UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund – Brussels Office)  also attended the meeting.

ITF EU representative Dr. Hassan Aydinli discussed the situation of the Turkmens with Dr. Marzio BABILLE, he spoke of the need to open a UNICEF Office in Kirkuk, like the ones already opened in Baghdad and Erbil.  Dr. Babille said that UNICEF had plans to open one in Kirkuk in the near future. He informed Dr. Aydinli that he had met with Mr. Hasan TURAN, the head of the Kirkuk provincial council, when he was in Kirkuk.  Dr. Babille also told him that he would be going back to Iraq on the next day. Dr. Aydinli wished him success in his Mission.

The meeting was chaired by MEP Struan STEVENSON.

It was attended by:
-          Representatives of the EEAS (European External Action Service)
-          A Delegation from the Iraqi Embassy Brussels
-          Representatives of UNICEF Children’s Fund Brussels Office
-          Mr. Perello RODRIGUEZ, D IQ MEP
-          Dr. Hassan AYDINLI, Iraqi Turkmen Front EU Representative
-          Mrs. Merry FITZGERALD, Europe-Turkmen Friendships
-          Mr. Carlos KURDI, accompanied by several other Kurdish representatives in Brussels
-          Human Rights Watch representative
-          Representatives of several EU organizations
-          Journalists and TV crews from EU and Iraq.

Summary of the Meeting
The Chair began the Meeting by pronouncing a firm condemnation of the barbaric attack by the Taliban on Malala, the young Pakistani girl, he said that the EU Parliament will never allow violence against the weak.  He also condemned female genital mutilation and girl labour.

Afterwards Mr. Stevenson spoke of the Iraqi children’s difficult situation, especially the thousands of orphans who need urgent attention as many of them are victims of human trafficking and sexual slavery.  He also deplored the fact that Al-Quaeda is using children in Iraq. He said that children are being kidnapped for ransoms in Iraq and that if the parents are unable to pay the ransom, these children are killed.

The Chair said he was concerned about the grave deterioration of children's health in Iraq due to heavy metal and Depleted Uranium used by the US and UK military during the war and occupation of the country.

Mr. Stevenson then introduced the UNICEF representative for Iraq, Dr. Marzio BABILLE, and said that it was a great opportunity to have him at the Meeting.

Dr. Marzio Babille is a Medical Doctor with Postgraduate Degree in Advanced and Clinical epidemiology  by the New England Epidemiology Institute at Tufts University, Boston, USA, with a Master’s degree in Public Health, the University of Leeds, U.K., and he holds a Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, he also has Postgraduate Fellowship in Emergency Medicine and Trauma and a Specialization in Internal Medicine.

The Chair said that Dr. Babille is a most highly qualified guest with experience in conflict zones.  Dr. Babille has participated in emergency planning, coordination and relief operations in various countries, such as Libya, Chad, India, the Sahel regions of Chad, the Jammu & Kashmir, the assistance to Iraqi-Kurdish IDPs and refugees in north-western Iran, Ethiopia, etc. Dr. Babille,  joined the Iraq Country Office in his capacity of UNICEF representative in February 2012.

After that, the Chair asked Dr. Babille what the EU can do to help the Iraqi children.

Dr. Marzio BABILLE started his presentation by saying that he and Dr. Subhash MISRA, Chief of Planning, Monitoring & Evaluation, UN Children’s Fund Iraq, have prepared the presentation and the documents which will be distributed during the Meeting. 

He spoke of the MICS  4  (The Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey collects data on the well-being of children including the status of children's health, nutrition, education, child protection and other indicators related to children's fundamental rights) which is the largest household survey to be carried out in Iraq to date and is the second Government survey to gather data at the district level. He said that more than 800 people were mobilized by Iraq's Central Statistics Organization and the Kurdistan Regional Statistics Office to assess a representative sample of around 36,000 households across the country, the largest ever. In total, over 55,000 women were interviewed with information collected on over 36,000 children under the age of five.

Dr. Babille said that there is need for Equity Strategy: Identifying the Most Deprived, (for children and women’s rights). He said that one in three children is deprived of several rights. Dr. Babille added that wide disparities of most deprived exist between and within Governorates and that Iraq needs wide private partnerships and collaboration for new policies.

Dr. Babille then spoke about the northern part of Iraq (Dohuk, Erbil, Ninewah, Kirkuk, and Salaheddin) which has a mixed population of Arabs, Turkmens and Kurds, where there is need to enhance national dialogue. He said that UNICEF is starting an interesting programme of Community Dialogue and added that this was important for Turkmens in particular. Dr. Babille said that he had personally visited Mosul and Kirkuk.

Regarding the 'disputed areas', Dr. Babille said  that Governance of the two regions of Iraq (Central-South) and the northern region of Kurdistan has several positive elements but it has potential of resulting in uneven development. Besides, in the 'disputed areas' a child is likely to be deprived and affected in many ways as the duty bearers are to organise the administrative roles and responsibilities. If the Government cannot, for political compulsions, address the 'disputed areas' and provide for additional funds, the development agencies and donors need to consider support for the child there. UNICEF is mindful of such situations and data collected through MICS 4  provide ample evidence for planning in deprived districts in disputed areas and elsewhere in the country. The access to basic services is weak across the board and this requires improving as growth and development of children will depend on it. UNICEF supports quality essential services for health, education, water & sanitation and will continue to do so in the most deprived governorates and districts based on the equity analysis, but it is not possible for UNICEF to do so alone.

Below are data taken from Dr. Babille's presentation:-

2006-2011 Trends: Progress

There is Progress in:
  • Birth registration
  • Gender parity in school
  • Primary school attendance
  • Fully immunized children
But there is Insufficient Progress in:
  • Infant Mortality (newborns)
  • Immunization coverage (Measles)
  • Malnutrition (stunting)*
  • Child Labour
*Stunting: low height for age in children, which is the irreversible outcome of chronic nutritional deficiency during the first 1.000 days of a child’s life.

2006-2011 Trends: What needs to improve:

Regression in:
  • Breastfeeding
  • Treatment of Diarrhoea
  • Pneumonia
  • Early Marriage
Stalled in:
  • Low birth weight rate
  • Net primary school completion rate
  • Domestic violence and violent discipline
  • Knowledge of HIV
  • Iodized salt supplementation
Dr. Babille showed graphics on the following topics, adding that all data had been validated by the Ministry in Baghdad:
  • Socio-Demographic
  • Human Development
  • Security Levels in Iraq, October 2012
  • Disputed Internal Borders
  • Children & Women in Iraq
  • Equity Strategy: Identifying the Most Deprived
  • Trends on Children’s Issues 2006-2011
  • Children’s Issues today, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health
  • Child Mortality
  • Nutrition: Underweight, Stunting and Wasting
  • Children’s Issues today, Water and Sanitation
  • Children’s Issues today, Education
  • Children’s Issues today, Child Protection: Violence and Child Labour
  • Key Issues for Youth
  • Youth Unemployment
  • Key Governorate Priorities
  • Adolescents Out of School & Youth Unemployment
  • Policy and Strategic Level Work
  • Programmatic Way Ahead
On the Socio-Demographic item, he gave the following information:
  • Population: 33.4 million (est.)
  • Children: 16.8 million (50%)
  • Under-5 Children: 5.6 million (17%)
  • 23% living on less than 2.2 USD/day (WB, 2008)
  • 17% unemployment rate (Labour Surv. MoLSA, 2008)
  • 18% female force participation
  • 5% internet users
  • 78% mobile subscribers
  • 86% with access to electricity (public grid and private generator).
Human Development Index:  Iraq has low comparative development, ranking:
  • 16th in the Middle East
  • 132ND Globally
Concerning security issues he said that in the last 4 years Iraq has accomplished good work and he added that the UN has personnel who observe the security issue on a daily basis.
UNICEF is present in refugee camps of Duhok and Al-Quaim (for Syrian refugees and Iraqi returnees); in both camps they are looking after women and children.
Dr. Babille said that almost 2 million children suffer from lack of rights in Iraq and that UNICEF can influence the Iraqi government to improve children’s rights, therefore access of the UN to the poor is essential.
He added that there are cases of violence on children at home:
  • 4 in 5 children experience violent discipline; 1 in 20 in child labour.
  • 9.6 million children 2-14 years suffer from any violent discipline method; one third of them (3.3m) suffer from severe physical punishment.

After that he gave the following information: -
  • 98% of Iraqi children are registered at birth.
  •  More than half of all children under 5 die in their first month of life.
  • A very positive point is that the Iraqi Ministry of Health has immunized children, but Measles and chronic malnutrition are still a problem.
  •  There is another big problem: only 62% of children complete primary school and 11% of children under 14 are out of school.
  • Neonatal Health assessment is needed and UNICEF will help the Iraqi government.
  • Forced marriages are a problem.
Key Issues for Youth: (info taken from Dr. Mabille’s presentation)

Youth/Adolescent aspiring for participation, economic opportunities and better quality of life (minimum standards of service delivery):

1.       Employment:
-          High youth unemployment (30%) – exacerbated by low education and skill levels
-          Youth unemployment rising: 450,000 youngsters join the labour market each year
2.       Governance:
-          Social participation in governance
-          Accountability and transparency mechanisms

3.       Service Delivery:
-          85% households suffering weekly or daily electricity cuts
-          Very low intermediate (39%) and secondary enrolment (21%)
-          Second highest maternal and child mortality rates in the region
-          Only half of urban households have some form of garbage collection, less than 5% in rural areas
-          Only 1 out of 3 urban households access the sanitation network, less than 3% in rural areas.

Dr. Babille added that these issues vary across country, gender, age groups – needing complex responses.
Dr. Babille said that another issue was Food Security; due to low income (Iraqis have relatively low income per capita). Water access is a serious problem, 25% of households have no access to water.  As for literacy of poor women he said that there has not been any progress.

He said that investment in Teacher Training is important, that we need to  enhance understanding, a new way to bring up children;  to eliminate trauma due to war.

Regarding female genital mutilation and cutting (1.3 million women suffer from FGM/C) Dr. Babille said it is principally concentrated in the Kurdish region of Iraq (with highest percentages in Erbil and Suleymaniya), he added that women parliamentarians in the Kurdistan Region have been mobilized and that UNICEF will offer support to end such practices, but that this requires means. He said that the Iraqi government does not recognize this practice.

Dr. Babille declared that for the next 2 years UNICEF in Iraq will concentrate on public sector reforms, decentralization and that it is mobilizing academic networks to boost decentralization:-

Policy and Strategic Level Work:

-          Public sector reform, role of private sector, and empowerment of civil society – institution and capacity building
-          The Data Storm: evidence for decision making, monitoring and reporting
-          Social policy, social protection and SCT – the Equity Strategy
-          PPP and Decentralization, the role of catalytic funding
-          Demand generation, public information, and community dialogue
-          Quality improvement of essential services
-          Strategic partnerships and S-S cooperation
-          DIBS: Confidence building and inclusive participatory processes to improve national dialogue

Programmatic Way Ahead:

·         Education: curriculum development and modernization, teaching methods and upgraded infrastructure
·         Youth empowerment and social cohesion
·         Social justice for children, institution building: Rule of Law framework for administration of, and access to justice
·         GBV (Gender-based Violence) and FGM – women citizenship
·         Child maltreatment is everybody’s business
·         Environmental management and compliance with Intl. Treaties
·         The Promise to Keep: Child Survival unfinished agenda – Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN): food insecurity, stunting.

Dr. Babille declared that UNICEF will expand its support to the Government to develop policies and interventions to make Iraq a better place for all of its children in the coming months and years. He ended his presentation by thanking the European Union for the great support it provides.

Mr. Perello RODRIGUEZ, D IQ MEP took the floor to say that with Iraq’s important oil revenues it is necessary to discuss the distribution of resources. As the meeting was running out of time, Mr. Stevenson said this discussion will be for another Meeting.

The Chair thanked Dr. Babille for his excellent and very informative presentation.

ITF EU representative Information Office

Meaning of Acronyms:
UNICEF: United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund
MICS: Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey
MICS 4: is the largest household survey to be carried out in Iraq to date and is the second Government survey to gather data at the district level. Over the past year and a half, more than 800 people were mobilized by Iraq's Central Statistics Organization and the Kurdistan Regional Statistics Office to assess a representative sample of around 36,000 households across the country, the largest ever. In total, over 55,000 women were interviewed with information collected on over 36,000 children under the age of five.
FGM/C: Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting
GBV: Gender-based Violence

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