1.3 million children displaced by Iraq’s war with Daesh - UNICEF

Displaced children stand in line to get food at the Hammam Al-Alil camp for internally displaced people south of Mosul. (File Photo: AFP)
Updated 19 January 2018
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1.3 million children displaced by Iraq’s war with Daesh - UNICEF

GENEVA: About half the 2.6 million people displaced in Iraq after a three-year war with Daesh militants are children and persisting violence hampers efforts to ease their suffering, the United Nations said on Friday.
While the Baghdad government last month declared victory over Daesh after wresting back almost all the territory seized by the group in 2014, persistent bombing and shooting attacks make it difficult to rebuild the lives of displaced people, according to UNICEF, the UN children’s agency.
“We believe that as a result of the conflict, a lack of investment over the years, and the poverty ... that there are 4 million children now in need across Iraq,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF chief representative in the country.
He told a Geneva news briefing by telephone from Baghdad that 1.3 million of the 2.6 million displaced by the often devastating fighting with Daesh were children.
“While the fighting has come to an end in several areas, spikes of violence continue in others — just this week, three bombings went off in Baghdad,” UNICEF Regional Director Geert Cappelaere said in a statement.
“Violence is not only killing and maiming children; it is destroying schools, hospitals, homes and roads. It is tearing apart the diverse social fabric and the culture of tolerance that hold communities together.”
Hawkins said UNICEF was also helping children of alleged Daesh militants now in detention by providing comfort and legal aid, and is trying to reunite those separated from their families, including those abroad.
The issue of civilians uprooted from Sunni Muslim areas previously under control of Daesh militants has become the latest bone of sectarian-tinged political contention in Iraq.
Sunni politicians are lobbying for postponing parliamentary elections due in May to allow the displaced to return to their hometowns to cast their ballots there.
Shiite Muslim politicians including Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi insist on the vote taking place as planned on May 12.
The United States called on Thursday for the elections to be held on time, saying that delaying them “set a dangerous precedent, undermining the constitution and damaging Iraq’s long-term democratic development.”


Iran says navy mounts new defense system on warship

Updated 11 min 34 sec ago
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Iran says navy mounts new defense system on warship

  • The US military’s Central Command confirms it has seen increased Iranian naval activity
  • Iran has developed a large domestic weapons industry to achieve self-sufficiency

DUBAI: Iran’s navy has mounted a locally built advanced defensive weapons system on one of its warships for the first time, the Iranian navy chief was quoted as saying on Saturday, as tensions mount with the US military in the Gulf.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards confirmed earlier this month it held war games in the Gulf, saying they were aimed at “confronting possible threats” by enemies.
The US military’s Central Command confirmed it had seen increased Iranian naval activity, extending to the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway for oil shipments the Revolutionary Guards have threatened to block.
Iran has been furious over US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of an international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program and re-impose sanctions on Tehran.
Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi “reiterated that coastal and sea testing of the short range defense Kamand system were concluded successfully, and said this system was mounted ... on a warship and will be mounted on a second ship soon,” the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported,
The Kamand has been dubbed the “Iranian Phalanx” after an automated machine gun produced by US firm Raytheon whose heavy bullets shred incoming missiles.
Unable to import many weapons because of international sanctions and arms embargoes, Iran has developed a large domestic weapons industry to achieve self-sufficiency in producing military equipment, and often reports on its development of arms which it says are comparable with advanced Western systems.