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Human Trafficking

Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children

In the first decade of the 21st Century                                                   


Iraq's economy is dominated by the oil sector, which has traditionally provided over 90% of foreign exchange earnings. Oil exports are around levels seen before Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The International Compact with Iraq was established in May 2007 to integrate Iraq into the regional and global economy, and the Iraqi government is seeking to pass laws to strengthen its economy. This legislation includes a hydrocarbon law to establish a modern legal framework to allow Iraq to develop its resources and a revenue sharing law to equitably divide oil revenues within the nation, although both are still under contentious political negotiation.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Iraq

CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Iraq.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspect(s) of street life are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got there, how they survive, and how some manage to leave the street.  Perhaps your paper could focus on how some street children abuse the public and how they are abused by the public … and how they abuse each other.  Would you like to write about market children? homeless children?  Sexual and labor exploitation? begging? violence? addiction? hunger? neglect? etc.  There is a lot to the subject of Street Children.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


Grim Time for Iraq's Street Children

Charles A. Radin, The Boston Globe, Baghdad, June 4, 2003

[accessed 31 May 2011]

[accessed 17 December 2016]

Iraqi society attaches a heavy stigma to street children, whether they are orphans or war victims. These days, most orphanages are accepting only the children they cared for before the war who scattered during the conflict. The newly orphaned and deserted children on the streets, said to number at least a few thousand, are objects of scorn.

Children lured into drugs and prostitution

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks IRIN, Baghdad, February 12, 2007

[accessed 10 March 2015]

GLUE SNIFFING - Sami Rubaie, 12, lives on the streets of Baghdad. He said he ran away from home because he could not stand the beatings he got from his father for not bringing home enough money from begging all day. He soon turned to glue sniffing. To support his habit, he recently joined a gang and now men have sex with him in exchange for glue and money.

"I cry every time a man has sex with me and they usually hit me because I am crying. After I do it, my boss gives me a good quantity of glue and around US $3 dollars for food. I know what I'm doing is wrong but it's better than living with daily beatings from my father for not bringing him enough money," Sami said.


*** ARCHIVES ***

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 13 February 2011]

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - Recent information indicates that in urban areas, children are employed in merchant shops, as ticket collectors on buses, and are found washing cars, shining shoes, and cleaning litter from streets. Children work as vendors of cigarettes, gum, candy, food, soft drinks, pornographic videos, fruit, fuel, used clothes, and junk.  Children also dig through rubbish, drive donkey carts and work in brick factories in Iraq.  Since the war, the number of street children in some areas of Baghdad has been increasing.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 9 February 2020]

CHILDREN - MOLSA operated a total of 22 orphanages for older children in Baghdad and the provinces, housing a total of 617 children, and 42 orphanages for young children, housing a total of 1,519 children.

In an effort to address juvenile delinquency, the MOI, in cooperation with MOLSA, initiated on March 20 a campaign to respond to the growing problem of street children. MOLSA officials estimated that approximately 480 homeless children in Baghdad alone were placed into homes during this campaign.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 9 October 1998

[accessed 13 February 2011]

[27] The Committee notes with concern the situation of children living and/or working on the streets, particularly as it relates to economic and sexual exploitation. In this regard, the Committee encourages the State party to increase preventive measures and its efforts to ensure the rehabilitation and reintegration of these children.

Iraqi Women Demand Humanitarian Attention for Iraqi Children

Iraqi Women's League, June 4 2008

[accessed 31 May 2011]

The number of those who have not attended school is close to one million because of deteriorating security conditions in most regions of Iraq, as well as the poverty experienced by more social strata. Poverty has forced families to make their children leave school and seek food in waste dumps, work as street vendors or turn into beggars. Children toiling to earn a living has become a commonplace scene in the streets of Iraq. Under these tragic conditions, children are subjected to murder, kidnapping and rape, in addition to being exploited in acts of terrorism.

In the midst of the despair that hangs over people's lives, and the magnitude of disaster suffered by the society and children in particular, thousands of them have turned into street children and become addicts of drugs that have become widely smuggled or cultivated since the occupation of our country.  The overall tragic situation of children in Iraq makes them among the most miserable children in the world. Despite this, they have not yet found their place on the agenda and priorities of the Iraqi government.

The Children of Basra: New Year, Old Fears

Jasim Dakhil, Asharq Al-Awsat, Basra, 26/12/2007

[accessed 31 May 2011]

Anyone passing through the popular districts in Basra, the second-largest province in Iraq, cannot fail to see countless little children in the alleys. This is where they spend most of their day, especially in the poorer areas where children abound since they have nowhere else to go.  Streak faced and in dirty clothes, they play in the muddy streets while the older children wander around the market places with the signs of hunger and depravation clearly etched on their young faces. Some of these children have been forced to find dangerous and difficult jobs so that they can provide for their families, while others have devised new ways to beg and con on the streets.

Ahmed Salem, six years old, tried to persuade people at Basra’s al Ashar market to buy his nylon bags so that he can, “earn some money to provide food for his mother and younger sister,” he said. Ahmed is one of dozens of children who stand in traffic intersections trying to sell their wares of tissue boxes, bananas, soft drinks, and chocolate.

Halima Abdul Hussein, 8 years old, speaks in a manner that does not belie the fact that she is an orphan so that she would not evoke sympathy; she said that, “I live with my three cousins and we go to the traffic intersection of al Tarbia Street from early in the morning until the evening so we can earn our livelihood,” and confirmed that she really wanted to go to school.

Poverty Wages War on Iraqi Children

Amit Pyakurel (ammykumars), OhmyNews, 2007-03-15

[accessed 31 May 2011]

[accessed 17 December 2016]

The number of street children has greatly risen in Iraq since the U.S.-led occupation began in 2003. The foremost reason for this is the deteriorating economic condition of the country, according to the NGO Coordination Committee in Iraq (NCCI).

And, as many have died since the start of the war, the significant increment of the number of widows and orphans has also largely resulted in children who have to beg and try to sustain their lives on the streets across the country.

The NCCI reported that the families facing fragile economic conditions (especially if their male member/s, who are mostly synonymous to the major or sole breadwinner of the family, are killed in the conflict) often send their children to beg on streets as a mean of supplementing their income.

Whereas, Cedric Turlan, the information officer of the NCCI, said that some families also send their children to work, and this also to sustain their livelihood or at least to feed themselves.

Child beggars proliferate in Baghdad

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks IRIN, Baghdad, 11 February 2007

[accessed 10 March 2015]

His father fell ill and could not work so he sent his children out to beg. If they did not come home with enough money, he would beat them, Ahmed said. His father died of kidney failure in April 2005.  "Now they are dead but my brothers treat us well. We are happy even though we sleep in the open, in a garden with only two blankets. I hope one day I will help all child beggars in Iraq," Ahmed said, grinning from ear to ear before excusing himself and running after an expensive-looking car.  Ahmed is one of thousands of homeless children throughout Iraq who survive by begging, stealing or scavenging in garbage for food.

Iraq: A Dangerous Environment for Children

Refugees International, 07/01/2003

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 31 May 2011]

Although the war in Iraq has ended, children are still in danger. Some of Iraq’s children sleep in the street between Coalition tanks and statues in front of the Sheraton Hotel in Baghdad. Others are living in orphanages.

Iraq's Outcasts

Institute for War & Peace Reporting

[access date unavailable]

[accessed 17 December 2016]

Many orphans and other poor children are forced into begging and prostitution.  These children have joined the growing army of street children who scrape and beg for a living in a city that is flooded with weapons but has no government to impose law and order and deliver social services.  But in a city where few have money, it is almost impossible to make a living on the street and most of the children are barefoot, ragged and often appear to be starving.


Dale Gavlak, Voice of America VOA News, Baghdad, 29 July 2003

[accessed 31 May 2011]

In Saadoun neighborhood, we saw a real tragedy - children getting raped all the time, girls and boys. There are organized gangs giving children drugs, tablets, alcohol to make them drunk and taking them to the hotels where they will be raped as payment, if you want to have sex with a girl or a boy.

Glimmer Of Hope For Iraqi Street Kids

BBC News, 20 May, 2003

[accessed 31 May 2011]

Since 1991 a great number have been abandoned by parents too poor to feed them, and the numbers grew dramatically during the conflict earlier this year, after looters attacked orphanages following the fall of Baghdad.  "Children living in the streets have no families, so they're not cultured and have little education," explained Amira Hasar al-Saraf, head teacher at the al-Wasaria orphanage. "Most of them are thieves.  They get drunk and take drugs - they even have sexual relations with each other."

New Premises For Homeless Children In Capital

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks IRIN, Baghdad, 18 December 2003

[accessed 10 March 2015]

It seems like a happy scene, but if you talk to the former street children, you will find that many of them are disturbed and potentially violent.   Under the former regime, the issue of street-children was kept under wraps.

Street Whys?

Catherine Arnold, Baghdad Bulletin, 31/8/2003

[accessed 31 May 2011]

They appreciate the security, the food and the activities we offer, but the settling in process is very difficult especially if they are used to complete freedom. They are usually illiterate and have little conception of accepted behavior. Our difficulty is to know what to do with the older ones who are legally of age but who remain vulnerable

Iraq's Street Children Who Face A Daily Struggle For Survival

War Child UK, 14 Jul 2005

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly also be accessible [here]

[accessed 31 May 2011]

With support systems almost non-existent, many children find themselves falling through the net completely and end up living on the streets.  These kids - mostly boys, but girls too - come from homes broken by the first Gulf War, or orphaned by the second, but these children have survived to live a brutalized existence.  A day in a life on the streets offers a vicious reality - crime, bloody violence, sexual abuse (and attendant diseases) and an ever-increasing drug culture.

Lives Less Ordinary


[accessed 31 May 2011]

Kevin and Helen went to Iraq as human shields, but found the mission of their lives in its forgotten street kids.  A diary tale of their transformation from protestors to care-workers.

UNICEF wary of post-war child trafficking in Iraq

UNICEF Press Centre, New York, 13 June 2003

[accessed 13 February 2011]

Noting a flurry of news reports indicating an increase in the number of children on the streets in Baghdad, UNICEF says the situation is ripe for exploitation of children.

UNICEF warns that while street children are a concern in Iraq, there is no overnight solution. The issue of street children is a very recent phenomenon in Iraq. Prior to the 1991 Gulf War, the problem simply did not exist, and it will take time to reverse this trend. htsc

New NGO Helps Street Children In Baghdad

Valentinas Mite, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty RFE/RL, June 21, 2004

[accessed 31 May 2011]

"I am 14 years old. My mother [left my father and started living with another man], and my father took us away from our mother and then he started beating us. And then I ran away." -- Kutaiba, a homeless Iraqi boy    Thousands of homeless children are living on the streets of the Iraqi capital Baghdad. They are begging, stealing, selling, or using drugs, rooting through garbage for food, and sleeping on the pavement.

As Street Violence Flares In Iraq, Lutheran World Relief Aids Street Children

Lutheran World Relief, Baltimore, 18 Mar 2004

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly also be accessible [here]

[accessed 31 May 2011]

The project, which depends on local organizations and staff, will repair a shelter that provides street children in north Baghdad with protection, education and good hygiene.

'All Our Children' Approves New Projects for Iraq's Youngest

Church World Service/National Council of Churches CWS/NCC, New York City, March 16, 2004

[accessed 31 May 2011]

In one project, Church World Service (CWS) and its consortium partners approved repairs to the Bait al Tuful social institution, which provides shelter and care for street children. Working with Enfants du Monde and the Iraqi Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MOLSA), the institution serves as a transitional place where children have access to education, hygiene and protection.

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