The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has had heavy socio-economic consequences on children and adolescents in Iraq.
Already in an already vulnerable population, they carry the heavy burden of rising poverty. Some of them were seen resorting to labour despite their young age, in Hillah, on Sunday.
A 17-year-old teenager, Hani Abbas Kareem, was seen working with waste and said that “there is no use of going to school, even if you get a degree you will sit at home [unemployed], there are no jobs, nothing, and no one would help.”
“My brother has a degree, but no one asks for him, it’s been 10 years since he graduated, no one took him to work,” he added.
Another child, who was seen asking people for money on the street, said that their earnings diminished since the COVID-19 pandemic broke.
A UNICEF report found that children constitute the majority of up to 4.5 million Iraqis at risk of falling below the poverty line as a result of the pandemic, bringing the national poverty rate to 31.7 percent from 20 percent in 2018, and the total number of poor to 11.4 million.
Children and adolescent are reported to face the highest increase in poverty. Before the coronavirus outbreak, one out of five were poor. Now, that number is set to increase to over two out of every five, or 37.9 percent of all children.