UNICEF Humanitarian action update - Iraq, 17 Oct 2008


Cholera places children at risk in central and southern Iraq

- Over 400 cases of cholera are confirmed in 10 governorates, resulting in 14 deaths to date

- Less than 20% of households in Meshahdah, western Baghdad, found to have access to safe water

- High vulnerabilities in water and sanitation uncovered in rural communities of Missan


August and September 2008 were dominated by tensions in Diyala and a new outbreak of cholera in central and southern governorates.

In Diyala Governorate, Iraqi forces backed by the US military, continued their military operation against terrorist and criminal threats. Movement in the governorate has been restricted throughout the reporting period. There have been some displacements in the Sadiya area as a result of these movements and due to the impact of extremist groups moving into their areas of origin. The security situation in Khanaqin has deteriorated due to tensions between Peshmerga and Iraqi Security Forces. This is linked to the broader issue of disputed boundaries. This has the potential to escalate into open conflict, which would have humanitarian impact in terms of freedom of movement, access to services, and exposure of children to violence.

The first suspected case of cholera this year was reported from Missan Governorate on 7 August, in Uzair sub-district. As at end September, over 400 confirmed cases of cholera (including 14 deaths) have been reported in 10 governorates. Other suspected cases are being investigated.

The children of Sadr City continue to face high vulnerabilities months after the worst of the conflict ended.

Two assessments conducted in August have identified continuing risks to children due to poor sanitation and damaged educational facilities. Findings include:

- The population of sectors 57 and 58 have no working sewage system, leading to children being exposed to disease;

- Medical facilities serving these areas are functioning but lack basic medicines, equipment and supplies, limiting their ability to serve the population;

- Sanitation conditions of schools in sectors 57 and 58 poses a risk to students.

The children of Meshahdah in western Baghdad are in acute vulnerable conditions. Preliminary reports suggest 80% of children in this area are not in school.