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Iraq: Child Malnutrition

Volume 696: debated on Wednesday 21 November 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Triesman on 5 June 2006 (WA 153-54), what is the latest acute malnutrition rate among Iraqi children under five; how this compares with the rate of 5.9 per cent in the UNICEF survey in 2000 during the oil-for-food regime; and what measures are being taken to reduce it other than by encouraging economic growth.[HL204]

There are no fully reliable or up-to-date figures on child malnutrition in Iraq. The latest joint UNICEF-Government of Iraq multiple indicator cluster survey was published in March 2007. It reported a fall in malnutrition rates since 2000. The proportion of children who were too thin for their age had fallen from 5.9 per cent in 2000 to 4.8 per cent in 2006. The proportion of children too short for their age or underweight had fallen from 22.1 per cent to 21.4 per cent and 15.9 per cent to 7.6 per cent respectively.

The Government of Iraq have primary responsibility for ensuring the welfare of their own citizens, including children. However, the UN, led by UNICEF, continues to support the Iraqi Government to improve nutrition rates through infant feeding campaigns, the provision of medical supplies and other support. DfID is supporting humanitarian agencies providing emergency relief, including food assistance, to children and other vulnerable groups. Since 2003, DfID has committed over £130 million in humanitarian assistance, of which £15 million has been for this year alone.