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22 March 2017 – Statement by UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake following his visit to Iraq

“I leave Iraq at a time when the country is facing significant challenges and opportunities.

“Yet everywhere I visited – East Mosul, Baghdad, Fallujah, Erbil – children and their families told me of their dreams and their determination to make them real.”

“I spoke to a family in East Mosul living near a water distribution point. The family taught their children at home for more than two years.

“Their thirst for water was matched by their thirst for education, the key to a better future.

“In Fallujah, boys and girls in schools reopened amid the debris of war that still marks that city, said they wanted to be doctors and engineers.

“We are working with the Government of Iraq to provide all children in Iraq, with the resources they need to reach those dreams — whether that means new classrooms, notebooks or accelerated learning programmes.

“Because it is these students who, if they have the skills in their heads and healing in their hearts, will move the country from the conflicts of the past towards a peaceful future.

“But even as those who are returning to their homes and classrooms are looking forward, 1.4 million children are still uprooted by the violence in Iraq, and some 200,000 children are trapped in Mosul.

“UNICEF is working hard to provide children and families affected by the crisis in Mosul with lifesaving supplies of water, access to sanitation facilities, psychosocial support and the opportunity to get back to learning as soon as possible.

“Because when the fighting comes to a halt, that will not be an end: it will be the beginning of building an intergenerational peace in a great nation that has seen too little of it.”

– ENDS –

Multimedia assets from the visit, including photos, b-roll and social media materials, available here.

Notes for editors:

For further information please contact the Unicef UK Press Office on +44 (0)20 7375 6030 or [email protected]

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