Advancing DeafKidz Iraq

18th February 2017

In partnership with the Iraqi Red Crescent we’re working to assess the safeguarding, communication, health, ear and hearing care needs of D/deaf Children and Young People in Baghdad City. Mounted from Amman in Jordan, our intervention will see a multi-disciplinary team comprising safeguarding, audiology and ENT expertise deployed, with IRC logistical support, to assess the needs of both Iraqi and Syrian D/deaf children. As a result of the ongoing crisis in Iraq, there are more than 250,000 Syrian refugees displaced into Iraq. This is a sizable population and one that places a burden on already stretched health resources.

This work draws reference from our early stage assessments of the needs of D/deaf children and young people in the refugee camps on the Jordanian, Syrian and Iraqi borders. Here D/deaf children are present but the agencies in situ – UNHCR, Handicap International etc – lack the specific expertise to respond to, particularly, their safeguarding, communication, ear & hearing care needs. Indeed, UNHCR readily admits that they are unable to provide qualified sign language interpreter support or clinical ENT support in the Zaatari camp where there are more than 40,000 children. Given that rates of D/deafness are high in rural Syria and Iraqi, there is likely to be a sizable D/deaf cohort within this population; a population whose needs we must work to address.

We’re adding value to this work from the learning that’s occurring as a result of our partnership with Save the Children UK. Here, in association with the Royal Dutch Kentalis, we’ve worked to prepare methodologies and materials for the assessment work we’re conducting in Greece. There’s much to be done and working in Iraq will not be easy – we have to rebuild an ear & hearing care infrastructure that has been devastated by both conflict and neglect. But with the support of the Iraqi Red Crescent and the wider Red Crescent movement we’ll do it…

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