- Title: Entertainers bring laughter to Iraq's displaced children
- Date: 6th December 2016
- Summary: CLOWN SHOW ONGOING
- Embargoed: 21st December 2016 10:49
- Keywords: Erbil displaced children
- Location: ERBIL, IRAQ
- City: ERBIL, IRAQ
- Country: Iraq
- Reuters ID: LVA0025BQTXED
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Grey skies and cold weather couldn't stop a smile shining through on these children's faces as they watched a show in Iraq's Debaga refugee camp.
These are the younger residents of the camp in Erbil.
The initiative, sponsored by children's rights charity Terre des Hommes (TdH), is one of several aimed at providing psychological support and educational activities for internally displaced children and their families.
"We are members of Terre des Hommes. We create child-friendly spaces where we try to gather as many children as possible who are here from the age of three years old up to 18 years old and present to them a number of entertainment shows to help them adapt to their new circumstances and help them rehabilitate and forget about their past experience," said psychologist Asma Nazeer, who is working on behalf of Terre des Hommes.
According to Nazeer, a large number of children in the camps are reluctant to become involved in the charity's programmes, but events like these help them to actively engage.
Performer Eva Rally, from Ireland, says it's evident that her young audience have been through 'a lot of pain'.
"When we perform for the children they're very generous and they give us a lot of love. We also do workshops with the children and that is really when we get to connect more personally with them and we feel like they have a lot, they have experienced a lot of pain you can see sometimes in their eyes or sometimes they have injuries and still they are adapting really well,'' she said.
Nazeer added that TdH, which works with other donors including the United Nations children's agency UNICEF, providing support and assistance for children who suffer traumatic experiences.
"They (children) were exposed to many things when Daesh took control of their areas, which children of their age should not have been exposed to, therefore we do what we can to help them either through our space or at our CPU (Child Protection Unit) with the help of our social researchers and our main office in Ankawa. Those who are in need of specialised psychological treatment are referred to other organisations which are specialised in this field,'' she said.
According to UNICEF, almost 10 percent of Iraqi children - more than 1.5 million - have been forced to flee their homes as a result of violence since the beginning of 2014.
For many of the children fleeing conflict, as well as the psychological effects of witnessing war firsthand, they also face a new challenge -- with no identity documents they risk joining a generation of stateless children.
Stateless children risk missing out on basic rights such as education and healthcare, they're likely to face difficulties in adulthood getting a job, and are exposed to abuse and trafficking, according to the United Nations.
As the war rages on against Islamic State in Iraq, the number of children suffering from the fallout from conflict is set to rise.
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