This report, the first comprehensive study of this size since the conflict escalated in Iraq 2014, details heart-breaking accounts from children who have been displaced by violence and fighting since Mosul fell to ISIS.
The study explores how Iraqi children’s experiences of violence and displacement have impacted on their mental health and psychosocial needs, highlighting how children are experiencing very different mental health issues depending on whether they fled ISIS early on or stayed and endured its control for several years.
Children who have recently fled talked of “monsters”, “dead bodies in the streets” “bloodied faces” and “bombs”. They spoke of their extreme sorrow of losing loved ones – experiences that are being felt by the whole community in a collective trauma.
Of those who have spent years displaced, the family unit has provided a protective shield for children, although concerningly, experts believe that the findings show a normalization of violence and insecurity and parents are overwhelmingly worried about their children’s mental health.
Despite varied responses to horrible events, in the face of significant shortages, all of these children face dim futures if immediate, targeted and long-term assistance is not given to provide the mental health and psychosocial support that they need.