actorartathleteauthorbizcrimecrosspostcustomerservicedirectoredufoodgaminghealthjournalistmedicalmilmodpostmunimusicnewsworthynonprofitotherphilpolretailscispecialisedspecializedtechtourismtravelunique

I am Dr. Marzio Babille, UNICEF Iraq Representative, here to answer your questions about the continuing violence in Iraq and its impact on children, women and their families.

Jun 17th 2014 by MarzioBabille • 24 Questions • 2665 Points

Alright all, we're starting now!

Since the beginning of the current round of violence, UNICEF has worked tirelessly to provide life-saving humanitarian aid to children and their families displaced from Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city.

I’m looking forward to taking your questions- it’s my first time on Reddit.

https://twitter.com/UNICEFiraq/status/478916921531064320 -proof we're live.

If you want to learn more about our day to day work, visit us at https://www.facebook.com/unicefiraq or https://twitter.com/UNICEFiraq.

Q:

Hi Mr. Babille I'm a Yezidi whose from Iraq and has lived most of my life in the states. My question to you is what's the plan for minorities in Iraq like the Christians and the Yezidi? When it really comes down to it, it doesn't look like they have any support or any forces. The Shiites, Sunnies and Kurds all have power and arms but if the ISIS get their hands on these poor folks there is no hope for them.

A:

The insufficient inclusion of minority groups in Iraq generated UNICEF concern since 2011 when the multiple cluster survey showed a higher level of social problems in those areas where minorities live. Currently UNICEF is supporting Yazedi, Shabaki, Turkmen, Assyrian, and Christian communities in the Ninewah Province and Kirkuk under dire circumstances developing these days. UNICEF provides water supplies, hygiene kits, health and nutrition support, as well as specific assessment towards the 6 grave violations against children sanctioned by the security council resolution 1612 where UNICEF is mandated to report such violations directly to the Security Council. UNICEF is extremely concerned and committed to uplift the child rights of those minority communities and will do everything that is necessary to gain access to them for support and assistance under the current emergency and conflict.


Q:

Hi Marzio! Thanks for doing this AMA. I apologise if my questions are rubbish -

  • How do UNICEF workers avoid injury or death? Do they stay away from active conflict areas? Do they wear uniforms to identify themselves? Do they have contact with ISIS to let them know where you will be operating?

  • I understand this might be a bit difficult and subjective but what is the Iraqi peoples' perception of ISIS? Are they seen as foreign fighters? Sunni protectors? Radical extremists? Liberators?

  • Do you find different levels of cooperation from Iraq's different ethnic groups? Do you have a good relationship with Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen?

  • What single piece of equipment or support that UNICEF provides in Iraq do you think has saved the most lives?

  • Do you have a opinion about the CIA faking a vaccination drive to collect DNA to catch Bin Laden in Pakistan? Do you think it risks undermining UNICEF's incredible efforts to vaccinate 3m children a year?

  • On a personal note, how old were you when you first grew your fantastic moustache?

A:
  1. UNICEF staff are branded in areas where areas in which access is allowed and security clearances are enabling work.
  2. UNICEF is active and present in refugee and displaced areas of Kurdistan, Ninewah, disputed northern areas of Iraq, and Anbar, since the beginning of the crisis in January 2014.
  3. UNICEF accepts and implements the principle of humanitarian reform that indicates the need to shift from "When to leave" to "How to stay" paradigm.
  4. UNICEF has no contact nor relations with armed opposition groups which are part of the list of shame officially recognized by the UN.
  5. According to ethnicity, the perception of ISIS among Iraqi citizens varies.
  6. UNICEF staff includes Arabs and Kurds. UNICEF operates through 5 offices (Baghdad, Erbil, Dohuk, Kirkuk, and Basra). Cooperation with all ethnic groups is offered, sought, and received.
  7. Immunization remains the key issue for child survival. Increasing more equitable immunization coverage against measles and polio is determining great progress not only during mass immunization at scale but ensures one of the fundamental rights of the child.
  8. Compliance to immunization rounds in areas where polio virus still strikes is a moral obligation. Drawbacks emerging from manipulation of information in areas where polio eradication has indicated some roll back remain major obstacles to the fulfillment of a polio free world. UNICEF continues relentless mobilization and inclusion of religious leaders and community leaders at grassroots to enhance understanding and support to a program which remains founded on the universal principles of the sanctity of child survival and healthy development.
  9. Well...My mustache was grown under a bet. During my medical school years friends imposed the sanction of grow a mustache should I been able to get the maximum score of the human anatomy exam. I never thought I would make it. They won.

Q:

Can you describe the work UNICEF is doing? What more can be done, and how can people in other countries and parts of the world contribute?

A:

UNICEF under emergency conditions such as the unfortunate situation in Iraq leads the strategic planning, management, and implementation, in collaboration with local government of water supply, sanitation and hygiene, education, and child protection sectors. UNICEF is also co leading the protection group where we specifically cover needs and demands for child protection. Under conflict conditions such as those we face presently in the central part of the country and disputed areas, UNICEF collects, verifies, and reports information on the 6 grave violations against children directly to the Security Council of the UN. The 6 are: 1, killing and maiming children, 2, abduction of children, 3, sexual abuse and trafficking of children, 4, recruitment of children by armed forces or groups, 5, deliberate attacks to schools and health infrastructure, and 6, deliberate restriction of the humanitarian space. The world, in particular the youth, can contribute adhering to the UNICEF National Committees spread in more than 170 countries. Personal donations, professional volunteer work, support to the principles and the mission, makes us convinced that the objectives and the mission mandates of UNICEF remain one of the key pillars for the future of childhood everywhere with particular reference to their rights in areas of conflict.


Q:

In your opinion, what can an average person (not living in Iraq) do to help the children living in the affected areas?

A:

UNICEF National Committees collect individual groups and institutional funds to support the cause and the implementations of programs such as that UNICEF is rolling out in Iraq.

https://www.facebook.com/unicefiraq is a start in learning more.


Q:

How strong a factor is Iran in Iraq's stability?

A:

Very strong factor.


Q:

Thank you for your time and efforts in Iraq. If you had to choose one issue to solely focus on in Iraq what would it be ? ( healthcare/first aid, hunger/food, safety/protection etc) and why?

A:

Protection and cash transfer to allow a multitude of displaced families to look forward confidently to a time when they might return to their homes.


Q:

What do you think needs to happen to return some form of stability to Iraq?

A:

The country must stay united, even though there are difficult days for the new generations. There must be an effort advocated by the Special Representative of the UN for the political factions and parties to drop obstructions and come together, preserving unity, inclusion, human rights, and dignity for Iraqi citizens.


Q:

Since no one else is asking, how is the violence women experience in Iraq unique to the other forms? How common/widespread is that sort of violence? Thank you.

A:

Domestic violence seems to be the highest prevalent form of violence in Iraq as is the behavior of Iraqi women that accept or even justify to being beaten by husbands for some omissions (76% of the interviewed, according to 2011 national multiple indication cluster survey by government of Iraq in collaboration with UNICEF). There is need for a robust advocacy on GBV and a set up of new modern policies. Overall there is a need of time and national champions for the cause.


Q:

Have you been a victim of any sorts of violence directed towards yourself? (sorry for my english)

A:

Negative.


Q:

Where are the refugees primarily fleeing to, southern Iraq, Kurdistan, or other countries like Jordan?

A:

Kurdistan and those who can afford it, Jordan.


Q:

How do you think the media has influence many american's opinions when it comes to Iraq and its families/refugees in it?

A:

The American media have been playing a crucial role for public information. Providing diversity and very often highly reliable information. The United Nations, which UNICEF belongs to, provide also independence and neutrality.


Q:

It's short for "internally displaced persons." A "refugee" is someone who leaves their own country because of conflict or whatever, but an IDP is someone who was forced out of their home but stayed in the same country. So, someone who fled from Mosul to Baghdad would be an IDP.

A:

UNICEF is currently providing full fledged support to IDPs fleeing conflict from Mosul and Ninewah province who reached safe havens in Kurdistan or disputed territories that are secured by Peshmerga forces. UNICEF ensures that the rights of minority children in particular (Christians and other ethnic or religious minorities) are protected. Our life saving interventions consisting of distribution of supplies, goods, commodities, and immunizations constitute the backbone of acute and mid term support. We work with government, other UN agencies, and partners. It is obvious that reports and alleged violations of human rights are increasing these days and will probably grow over time unless conflict is stopped. Child protection remains the first area of attention and protection measures are highly focused on the most vulnerable.


Q:

What do you feel the majority of Iraqi's perception is of UN-based aid to Iraq is as compared to US-specific aid?

A:

Unfortunately, the issue of UN brand has sometimes been associated with the United States. UNICEF branding though is extremely appreciated across the country also because children remain a universal value and UNICEF, in my experiences of 3 years in the country, has never been perceived as antagonistic to any Islamic value or politicized.


Q:

How are "children" generally defined in humanitarian triage systems? Is it everybody under 18, case by case, mental capacity? I'm curious as to when people age out of child-directed NGO services, especially young men. Is there a point when youth are encouraged or directed to leave children's settlements or programs?

A:

Children are defined as individuals from 0 to 18 years of age.


Q:

Hi there. My question for you today is where are all these refugees fleeing the fighting in Tikrit and such fleeing to? And what is Unicef actually trying to do to help the situation for those fleeing?

A:

Displaced people are fleeing to safe havens in autonomous Kurdistan region, bordering Salahaddin province which provincial capital is Tikrit. These are Sunni children but there are also children belonging to minority groups and all are equally vulnerable these days. Interventions on WASH, education, and immunization are fully implemented by UNICEF, with the help of local partners.


Q:

As a humanitarian aide provider, you've seen UNICEF work to provide basic need for the people of Iraq, Have you seen any other aide organizations in the country?

And, in your opinion, has the US infrastructure built in the country helped at all in moving aide to people in need?

A:

The UN system in Iraq includes UNICEF, as well as other important organizations such as UNHCR, WFP, WHO, UNESCO, UN Women, and others. The UN country team, and in particular, the humanitarian country team, made of the most operational agencies provides and orchestrated approach to assessment, analysis, and response to emergency, crises and disasters. The capacity, ability and pace to respond vary. UNICEF reaches children wherever they are under all those conditions that are permissible. Provincial councils on elective basis have become a critical chain in governance, decentralization, and infrastructure of the newly established Iraqi government after the fall of the previous regime. The concept and the compliance with it offered by provinces has so far indicated with few exceptions the reliability and worth of such a system that was not in place during Saddam Hussein's time.


Q:

Hi! Thanks for doing this AMA. I have a few questions.

  • Is FGM (female genital mutilation) a large problem in Iraq?
  • Is FGM getting worse or more prominent as ISIS becomes more and more powerful?
A:

FGM prevalence remains high although sharply declining for the last two years in Kurdistan, Northern Iraq. A specific study conducted by UNICEF with the government indicates that in some areas of the country, FGM may be under reported or simply concealed. The government of Kurdistan and UNICEF have joined forces in a program which offered in 2013 spectacular delivery at community level where the new policy sanctioning the bad practice has been enacted. UNICEF maintains high profile in a full fledged communication program enhancing local NGOs previous work and expanding understanding, awareness, and behavioral change in rural and urban communities in the provinces where the practice has been highly prevalent. A clear success that needs extending funding for full abandonment of FGM. We are confident.


Q:

Is ISIS mostly a militia trying to gain power in a certain region, or are they actually more motivated by ideology and religion? And if so, what sets them apart from competing factions and states?

A:

This is complicated. There is an excellent account on this issue on the last issue of the Economist. I suggest you read it.


Q:

Do you think that PTSD is a problem among the Iraqi citizens?

I have never seen any reports on PTSD in Iraq. The focus of the PTSD reports is usually US marines.

A:

Broadly, psychological stability remains a problem of high importance among all populations traumatized by conflict, not only in Iraq.


Q:

UNICEF has a direct witness to the rampant, rampaging corruption in Iraq. What measures do they take to stop it? As a soldier there, I've seen Imams take pallets of supplies back to their homes and never hand it to their people.

A:

Corruption remains one of the major obstacles for the resolution of ethnic and sectarian differences and development of the country. Tribalism remains even under the democratic rule. All need time.


Q:

What is the general view of the Syrian war from the Iraq perspective?

A:

Too complicated. Expand your information base please.


Q:

What non-essential thing do refugees tend to miss most? Something like air conditioning, or candy, or television, etc.

A:

We conducted a cross sectional survey across refugees in Kurdistan, Iraq. The key priority with no exception has been education for children.


Q:

In your opinion, is it possible for Iraq to become a stabilized, free, and safe country? What do you think needs to be done to achieve it?

A:

Too complicated. The United Nations are currently led by the Special Representative and our trying to maintain the country united and offer all the necessary humanitarian support to refugees, displaced, and vulnerable communities wherever they are located or on the the move.


Q:

Thank you very much for doing this ama.

What impact has our munitions, namely the depleted uranium rounds, made on the potable water supply in Iraq?

Have you witnessed increased cancer rates in children and the elderly and if you have would you attribute it to something like contaminated water and food or other factors (PTSD) and the like?

Are there still tensions between the different factions of the muslim faith in Iraq that make it difficult to operate or perform UNICEF tasks?

Thank you again in advance for the good work you do.

A:

There is evidence of increased birth defects and leukemia in some areas of the country, but there is NO scientific evidence of correlation or cause/effect with the previous use of depleted uranium, although few non controlled studies disagree.

Yes, there are tensions along sectarian lines in Iraq. UNICEF works with government, partners, institutions, with no difference in mission objectives, process, and results.