Ewan McGregor makes emotional plea during Iraq refugee-camp visit

Ewan McGregor makes emotional plea during Iraq refugee-camp visit
Scottish actor Ewan McGregor broke into tears calling for greater efforts to help children caught in conflicts zones in Syria and Iraq as he visited refugee camps northern Iraq.
3 min read
02 August, 2016
The actor is an ambassador for the UN children's agency Unicef [Getty]

Scottish actor Ewan McGregor broke down in tears during an emotional plea for greater efforts to aid children caught in conflict as he visited a number of refugee camps in northern Iraq last week.

The actor, who is an ambassador for the UN children's agency Unicef, warned that children are at greater risk of death, sexual violence and recruitment into armed groups.

McGregor described the situation as "increasingly desperate," adding that tens and thousands of children caught in conflicts in Syria and Iraq were killed and 3.6 million remain at risk, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

"I really passionately believe we've got to keep...sorry," McGregor said, while speaking to the camera before he broke down into tears.

"So, the reason why it's so important to keep supporting the effort here, why I'll do everything I can to keep supporting Unicef, is because they're just children, they're human beings, they're families who've had to leave terrible situations and are trying their best to survive and carry on," McGregor added.

"Many of the children I've met in Iraq have been forced to flee their homes, risking their lives on dangerous journeys and have been exposed to unimaginable horrors," he added in a statement reported by Reuters on Tuesday.

During his trip, McGregor visited the Debaga camp where he spent time with Syrian refugees and displaced Iraqi families.

"He described meeting a girl called Mirna who told him that her family had slept in a disused, half-built shopping mall for a year, living off food and supplies from the local community," reported Reuters.

"The world is facing an unprecedented refugee crisis and we must do more to protect the extraordinary number of children who have been torn from their homes by violent conflict," the actor urged.

According to a UN report published in June, children in Iraq faced a drastically increased level of danger resulting from conflicts in the region in the past 18 months.

During this period, Iraq's government has led extensive operations against the Islamic State group in the country, which has caused many Iraqis to flee the onslaught from both sides.

As a consequence of this "catastrophic" violence, Unicef says that 4.7 million children - a third of all Iraqi children - are now in need of humanitarian aid.

A staggering total of 1,496 children have also been abducted in the war-torn country in the past two and a half years. Many of them were forced into fighting or sexually abused, Unicef said.

Unicef has called for an immediate end to violence against children, and has requested $100 million for its Iraq response for 2016.