SEED calls on the Government of Iraq (GOI) to bolster protections for Children Associated with Armed Forces and Armed Groups

Erbil, Iraq – February 12, 2024: On the occasion of Red Hand Day, the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers, SEED Foundation reiterates the importance of providing needed protections, care, and support for conflict-affected children, particularly those exploited as child soldiers. We commend the Government of Iraq’s efforts to develop its first Child Law, and believe these issues can be addressed within this promising new framework.

The recruitment and use of children in armed conflict is not a new phenomenon in Iraq – we saw it with Saddam’s child soldier units (the Ashbal Saddam) and with the Islamic State’s Cubs of the Caliphate (the Ashbal al-Khilafah). But it did not end there and evidence suggests that the recruitment and use of children by a range of actors actually increased in 2022, reinforcing that this is not a problem of Iraq’s past, but a challenge of its present and future. This is a grave violation of child rights and one with profound implications for sustainable peace and social cohesion. Keeping children safe, meeting their needs, and supporting their health and growth is a crucial investment in building strong, capable, resilient communities.

In the draft Child Law, the Government of Iraq has a key opportunity to address this threat against the nation’s children by including a provision that prohibits their recruitment and use in any capacity, by any armed force or group. Such a broad prohibition would not only help to protect vulnerable children from violence, exploitation, and abuse, but enhance the prospect of accountability for crimes committed against them.

The draft law also presents an opportunity for the Iraqi Government to demonstrate visionary leadership by including provisions designed to promote the recovery of children whose rights have been violated. Ensuring that affected children can benefit from needed services and support is vital to reclaiming dignity, restoring well-being, and facilitating reintegration in the aftermath of harm.
On Red Hand Day, SEED calls on the Government of Iraq to safeguard its most precious resource and its hope for the future by ensuring that all of its youngest citizens can flourish and thrive.

SEED Foundation is a local NGO in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, committed to protecting, empowering, and supporting the recovery of survivors of violence and others at risk. Our approach to this mission is integrative and holistic. We provide quality and comprehensive services, including mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS), legal, protection, and shelter services; training, capacity building, and education to those working to protect and serve survivors; and policy and advocacy to strengthen laws, policies, practices and protections for vulnerable people, and promote social change.

For more information, please contact:
Marley Tinnock, Communications Manager:, +964 750 809 8541 | SEED Foundation Media: