Unicef: Millions of Iraqi children at serious risk
One in five Iraqi children - a staggering 3.6 million youngsters - face serious risk of death, injury, sexual violence, abduction or recruitment to militant groups, the UN's child welfare agency Unicef said in a report on Thursday.
"Children in Iraq are in the firing line and are being repeatedly and relentlessly targeted," said Peter Hawkins, Unicef's Iraq representative.
"We must help give children the support they need to recover from the horrors of war and contribute to a more peaceful and prosperous Iraq."
According to the report, the past 18 months of conflict have drastically increased the level of danger faced by Iraq's children, raising the number of those at serious risk by 1.3 million.
In 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 are then 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.