Getting back into safe schools is vital for the children of Mosul

Children in conflicts, Education in emergencies, Refugees and internally displaced people

More than 500,000 children need to be back in education quickly and start rebuilding their lives once the Iraqi city is retaken.

A battle is raging to liberate the Iraqi city of Mosul. In the midst of the unfolding action are more than 500,000 children and their families.

As the fighting continued yesterday between Islamic State (ISIL) militants and a coalition of forces, world leaders met in Paris to discuss what happens in the aftermath.

The children’s charity Theirworld sent a message to them that when the city is retaken, getting children back into education is vital for Mosul to emerge from two years of terrorist control.

“It’s going to be really important to the half a million children living in the city that they are able to return to school,” said Fiona Duggan, Senior Project Manager at Theirworld.

“For the children of Mosul, education is hope. It’s a way out of the suffering. A way to rebuild their lives.”

The Paris talks were co-chaired by France and Iraq and brought together many countries, as well as the United Nations, the League of Arab States and the European Union.

After the talks, the French diplomatic service said the participants “agreed to continue the efforts deployed in the area of emergency humanitarian aid and immediate stabilisation, in support of the Iraqi government and local authorities”.

When peace returns, the urgent humanitarian needs include food, water and shelter. But education has to be high on the list too.

Duggan added: “In the aftermath of a conflict or emergency getting children back into a safe school is often seen as an afterthought, receiving less than 2% of all aid.

"But school is the one thing that can save children from getting trapped into child labour, early marriage and often extremism. That’s why education must be prioritised." Fiona Duggan, Senior Project Manager at Theirworld

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it is prepared to provide aid to 800,000 people who could flee the battle for Mosul.

More than 5000 people have left the city in the past three days, the International Organisation for Migration said.

The UN refugee agency UNHCR said people were also fleeing to the east from the west of the city after heavy air strikes and shelling in the west.

The UN children’s agency UNICEF said it has enough water, showers, toilets and hygiene kits for more than 150,000 people immediately, with plans to reach over 350,000 over the next few weeks.

Mobile teams are on standby to care for the most critical cases of mental and physical trauma among the children.

“Mosul’s children have already suffered immensely over the past two years,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative in Iraq. “Many could be forcibly displaced, trapped between fighting lines, or caught in the cross fire.”

A 24-year-old mother called Mustafa, who has five children, told CNN that people are looking forward to peace returning to Mosul.

“We just want life to go back to normal in Mosul,” she said. “We want our children to go back to school and we want a life that suits us.

“We want people to go back to work. Some have not had a job for two years. But the most important thing for me is to get rid of ISIL and the terrorists. We are just looking for security for ourselves and our children.”

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