Alright all, we're starting now!

Since the beginning of the current round of violence, UNICEF has worked tirelessly to provide life-saving humanitarian aid to children and their families displaced from Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city.

I’m looking forward to taking your questions- it’s my first time on Reddit. -proof we're live.

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Comments: 1057 • Responses: 34  • Date: 

Jux_419 karma

In your opinion, how different would Iraq look today had the US never invaded in 2003?

MarzioBabille101 karma

Iraq undergoes the most dangerous periods of it's recent history, these days. UNICEF and the UN agencies are working to protect children, adolescents, and families everywhere they are with no distinction of ethnicity or religion. Whatever happens in the next days or weeks, will permanently impact the geopolitics of the region.

SouthernJeb280 karma

How does UNICEF ensure that the aid and material gets to those who need it rather than those who would just take it or abuse it?

edit:insure to ensure

MarzioBabille287 karma

UNICEF in emergency and development settings ensures that logistical and distribution plans are well crafted and monitored. This in turn implies identificaton and verification of institutions, partners, and groups who are involved in the distribution of supplies, goods, and commodities. Under the present conditions international and local NGOs are pre-screened by a very vigorous accountability check list before signing a partnership agreement that includes such distribution tasks. More specifically, in contested areas or under high danger conditions, UNICEF distributes directly supplies, goods, and commodities to families in households through facilitators who are accountable to the organization.

Faisso163 karma

Hi Mr. Babille I'm a Yezidi whose from Iraq and has lived most of my life in the states. My question to you is what's the plan for minorities in Iraq like the Christians and the Yezidi? When it really comes down to it, it doesn't look like they have any support or any forces. The Shiites, Sunnies and Kurds all have power and arms but if the ISIS get their hands on these poor folks there is no hope for them.

MarzioBabille187 karma

The insufficient inclusion of minority groups in Iraq generated UNICEF concern since 2011 when the multiple cluster survey showed a higher level of social problems in those areas where minorities live. Currently UNICEF is supporting Yazedi, Shabaki, Turkmen, Assyrian, and Christian communities in the Ninewah Province and Kirkuk under dire circumstances developing these days. UNICEF provides water supplies, hygiene kits, health and nutrition support, as well as specific assessment towards the 6 grave violations against children sanctioned by the security council resolution 1612 where UNICEF is mandated to report such violations directly to the Security Council. UNICEF is extremely concerned and committed to uplift the child rights of those minority communities and will do everything that is necessary to gain access to them for support and assistance under the current emergency and conflict.

fast_lloris123 karma

Hi Marzio! Thanks for doing this AMA. I apologise if my questions are rubbish -

  • How do UNICEF workers avoid injury or death? Do they stay away from active conflict areas? Do they wear uniforms to identify themselves? Do they have contact with ISIS to let them know where you will be operating?

  • I understand this might be a bit difficult and subjective but what is the Iraqi peoples' perception of ISIS? Are they seen as foreign fighters? Sunni protectors? Radical extremists? Liberators?

  • Do you find different levels of cooperation from Iraq's different ethnic groups? Do you have a good relationship with Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen?

  • What single piece of equipment or support that UNICEF provides in Iraq do you think has saved the most lives?

  • Do you have a opinion about the CIA faking a vaccination drive to collect DNA to catch Bin Laden in Pakistan? Do you think it risks undermining UNICEF's incredible efforts to vaccinate 3m children a year?

  • On a personal note, how old were you when you first grew your fantastic moustache?

MarzioBabille149 karma

  1. UNICEF staff are branded in areas where areas in which access is allowed and security clearances are enabling work.
  2. UNICEF is active and present in refugee and displaced areas of Kurdistan, Ninewah, disputed northern areas of Iraq, and Anbar, since the beginning of the crisis in January 2014.
  3. UNICEF accepts and implements the principle of humanitarian reform that indicates the need to shift from "When to leave" to "How to stay" paradigm.
  4. UNICEF has no contact nor relations with armed opposition groups which are part of the list of shame officially recognized by the UN.
  5. According to ethnicity, the perception of ISIS among Iraqi citizens varies.
  6. UNICEF staff includes Arabs and Kurds. UNICEF operates through 5 offices (Baghdad, Erbil, Dohuk, Kirkuk, and Basra). Cooperation with all ethnic groups is offered, sought, and received.
  7. Immunization remains the key issue for child survival. Increasing more equitable immunization coverage against measles and polio is determining great progress not only during mass immunization at scale but ensures one of the fundamental rights of the child.
  8. Compliance to immunization rounds in areas where polio virus still strikes is a moral obligation. Drawbacks emerging from manipulation of information in areas where polio eradication has indicated some roll back remain major obstacles to the fulfillment of a polio free world. UNICEF continues relentless mobilization and inclusion of religious leaders and community leaders at grassroots to enhance understanding and support to a program which remains founded on the universal principles of the sanctity of child survival and healthy development.
  9. Well...My mustache was grown under a bet. During my medical school years friends imposed the sanction of grow a mustache should I been able to get the maximum score of the human anatomy exam. I never thought I would make it. They won.

hopelesscaribou117 karma

You hear a lot about PTSD and soldiers. I can't imagine how traumatic it would be for an actual child (or parent!) growing up in a war zone/refugee camp. Is this something that is ever addressed and do you think it has implications on a generational scale?

MarzioBabille135 karma

Children and adolescence of Syria and Iraq, with no distinction between the two countries are being exposed to an extraordinary level of violence and multiple deprivations. UNICEF launched in October 2013 the No Lost Generation Initiative with other partners. This initiative aims at preserving a future, hope, and opportunity for these children heavily traumatized in Iraq either becoming refugees or suffering the hardship of multiple displacement. The initiative brings at the forefront the need of high quality education, it's continuity in areas of conflict after stopping it, as well as to recuperate mental health, dignity, and the dimension of play and learning that will contribute to a more cohesive growth for them. To overcome PTSD and other forms of loss of psychological balance there is also a need for capacity and a high level of funding, which may be problematic at this stage but need the highest level of attention from donor countries.

celebratedmrk59 karma

In your opinion, what can an average person (not living in Iraq) do to help the children living in the affected areas?

MarzioBabille56 karma

UNICEF National Committees collect individual groups and institutional funds to support the cause and the implementations of programs such as that UNICEF is rolling out in Iraq. is a start in learning more.

willbull334 karma

Can you describe the work UNICEF is doing? What more can be done, and how can people in other countries and parts of the world contribute?

MarzioBabille35 karma

UNICEF under emergency conditions such as the unfortunate situation in Iraq leads the strategic planning, management, and implementation, in collaboration with local government of water supply, sanitation and hygiene, education, and child protection sectors. UNICEF is also co leading the protection group where we specifically cover needs and demands for child protection. Under conflict conditions such as those we face presently in the central part of the country and disputed areas, UNICEF collects, verifies, and reports information on the 6 grave violations against children directly to the Security Council of the UN. The 6 are: 1, killing and maiming children, 2, abduction of children, 3, sexual abuse and trafficking of children, 4, recruitment of children by armed forces or groups, 5, deliberate attacks to schools and health infrastructure, and 6, deliberate restriction of the humanitarian space. The world, in particular the youth, can contribute adhering to the UNICEF National Committees spread in more than 170 countries. Personal donations, professional volunteer work, support to the principles and the mission, makes us convinced that the objectives and the mission mandates of UNICEF remain one of the key pillars for the future of childhood everywhere with particular reference to their rights in areas of conflict.

bkvm9628 karma

Man, I love UNICEF's work. What were your reasons for joining UNICEF?

MarzioBabille41 karma

I am a medical doctor and have been working in Africa, Middle East, and India. Joining UNICEF allowed me to transform people's lives in deprived countries and settlements. This is what I wanted to do. And the organization gave me such difficult privilege.

JoeZee22 karma

Thank you and the entire UN country team in Iraq. I hope all colleagues are doing well. My question is what political support or action would you find helpful by Member States to alleviate the hardships faced by young people in Iraq?

Thank you, be safe.

MarzioBabille20 karma

The No Lost Generation Initiative- spearheaded by UNICEF globally- aims at reaching Syrian refugee children, preventing them to lose hope and opportunities in their lives. Such principles ought to be applied in Iraq today and we are in discussion with the federal government and the Kurdistan Autonomous government to bring to the front scene, education and children protection new policy and strategic interventions to fulfill the objective of adolescents access to continued and better quality education at primary and secondary level as well as vocational training and job opportunities in areas of high deprivation and unemployment. Critical level of funding for UNICEF is what member countries can consider to support efforts and activities already in place on the ground.

fatty_fatshits19 karma

Since no one else is asking, how is the violence women experience in Iraq unique to the other forms? How common/widespread is that sort of violence? Thank you.

MarzioBabille31 karma

Domestic violence seems to be the highest prevalent form of violence in Iraq as is the behavior of Iraqi women that accept or even justify to being beaten by husbands for some omissions (76% of the interviewed, according to 2011 national multiple indication cluster survey by government of Iraq in collaboration with UNICEF). There is need for a robust advocacy on GBV and a set up of new modern policies. Overall there is a need of time and national champions for the cause.

Bevilanker14 karma


MarzioBabille19 karma

Very strong factor.

thrashbandic00t14 karma

How are "children" generally defined in humanitarian triage systems? Is it everybody under 18, case by case, mental capacity? I'm curious as to when people age out of child-directed NGO services, especially young men. Is there a point when youth are encouraged or directed to leave children's settlements or programs?

MarzioBabille24 karma

Children are defined as individuals from 0 to 18 years of age.

LizjaimeS13 karma

How do you think the media has influence many american's opinions when it comes to Iraq and its families/refugees in it?

MarzioBabille8 karma

The American media have been playing a crucial role for public information. Providing diversity and very often highly reliable information. The United Nations, which UNICEF belongs to, provide also independence and neutrality.

cernston12 karma

Historically, it seems IDPs are the subject of the gravest human rights violations. In terms of Iraq, what would you say are some hopeful areas, such as are the children still being educated or is the prevalence of rape kept low? What areas do you find most disturbing?

TripleOGeg10 karma

Sorry but what do you mean by IDP?

karmanaut7 karma

It's short for "internally displaced persons." A "refugee" is someone who leaves their own country because of conflict or whatever, but an IDP is someone who was forced out of their home but stayed in the same country. So, someone who fled from Mosul to Baghdad would be an IDP.

MarzioBabille18 karma

UNICEF is currently providing full fledged support to IDPs fleeing conflict from Mosul and Ninewah province who reached safe havens in Kurdistan or disputed territories that are secured by Peshmerga forces. UNICEF ensures that the rights of minority children in particular (Christians and other ethnic or religious minorities) are protected. Our life saving interventions consisting of distribution of supplies, goods, commodities, and immunizations constitute the backbone of acute and mid term support. We work with government, other UN agencies, and partners. It is obvious that reports and alleged violations of human rights are increasing these days and will probably grow over time unless conflict is stopped. Child protection remains the first area of attention and protection measures are highly focused on the most vulnerable.

timminfinity10 karma

Thank you for your time and efforts in Iraq. If you had to choose one issue to solely focus on in Iraq what would it be ? ( healthcare/first aid, hunger/food, safety/protection etc) and why?

MarzioBabille14 karma

Protection and cash transfer to allow a multitude of displaced families to look forward confidently to a time when they might return to their homes.

UneasySeabass10 karma

Hi! Thanks for doing this AMA. I have a few questions.

  • Is FGM (female genital mutilation) a large problem in Iraq?
  • Is FGM getting worse or more prominent as ISIS becomes more and more powerful?

MarzioBabille20 karma

FGM prevalence remains high although sharply declining for the last two years in Kurdistan, Northern Iraq. A specific study conducted by UNICEF with the government indicates that in some areas of the country, FGM may be under reported or simply concealed. The government of Kurdistan and UNICEF have joined forces in a program which offered in 2013 spectacular delivery at community level where the new policy sanctioning the bad practice has been enacted. UNICEF maintains high profile in a full fledged communication program enhancing local NGOs previous work and expanding understanding, awareness, and behavioral change in rural and urban communities in the provinces where the practice has been highly prevalent. A clear success that needs extending funding for full abandonment of FGM. We are confident.

lazyink10 karma

What do you think needs to happen to return some form of stability to Iraq?

MarzioBabille14 karma

The country must stay united, even though there are difficult days for the new generations. There must be an effort advocated by the Special Representative of the UN for the political factions and parties to drop obstructions and come together, preserving unity, inclusion, human rights, and dignity for Iraqi citizens.

Sanfranci10 karma

Do you think the Iraqi government will be able to stop the insurgents? Also I read that Iraq is OPECs second largest producer of oil, so my question is how are they not able to properly fund an army if they have all that money?

MarzioBabille17 karma

Currently the UN are trying to ensure the country stays united. The special representative call for the establishment of the new parliament is the highest call to parties and politicians to ensure governance. UNICEF has repeatedly called for different modalities of social protection to access children, families, communities, that have the right to benefit from a social cash transfer package that is highly demanded and encouraged by our organization. Such amount of funds could uplift thousands of families from poverty and make a substantive difference under the current conditions of displacement and deprivations.

ebox869 karma

As a humanitarian aide provider, you've seen UNICEF work to provide basic need for the people of Iraq, Have you seen any other aide organizations in the country?

And, in your opinion, has the US infrastructure built in the country helped at all in moving aide to people in need?

MarzioBabille12 karma

The UN system in Iraq includes UNICEF, as well as other important organizations such as UNHCR, WFP, WHO, UNESCO, UN Women, and others. The UN country team, and in particular, the humanitarian country team, made of the most operational agencies provides and orchestrated approach to assessment, analysis, and response to emergency, crises and disasters. The capacity, ability and pace to respond vary. UNICEF reaches children wherever they are under all those conditions that are permissible. Provincial councils on elective basis have become a critical chain in governance, decentralization, and infrastructure of the newly established Iraqi government after the fall of the previous regime. The concept and the compliance with it offered by provinces has so far indicated with few exceptions the reliability and worth of such a system that was not in place during Saddam Hussein's time.

karmanaut9 karma

What non-essential thing do refugees tend to miss most? Something like air conditioning, or candy, or television, etc.

MarzioBabille28 karma

We conducted a cross sectional survey across refugees in Kurdistan, Iraq. The key priority with no exception has been education for children.

Patty__Mayonnaise9 karma

Have you been a victim of any sorts of violence directed towards yourself? (sorry for my english)

MarzioBabille9 karma


toolongalurker7 karma

Hi there. My question for you today is where are all these refugees fleeing the fighting in Tikrit and such fleeing to? And what is Unicef actually trying to do to help the situation for those fleeing?

MarzioBabille12 karma

Displaced people are fleeing to safe havens in autonomous Kurdistan region, bordering Salahaddin province which provincial capital is Tikrit. These are Sunni children but there are also children belonging to minority groups and all are equally vulnerable these days. Interventions on WASH, education, and immunization are fully implemented by UNICEF, with the help of local partners.

Fuglewarrior6 karma

Where are the refugees primarily fleeing to, southern Iraq, Kurdistan, or other countries like Jordan?

MarzioBabille14 karma

Kurdistan and those who can afford it, Jordan.

princesa_consuela6 karma

What is the general view of the Syrian war from the Iraq perspective?

MarzioBabille11 karma

Too complicated. Expand your information base please.

TupacalypseN0w5 karma

What do you feel the majority of Iraqi's perception is of UN-based aid to Iraq is as compared to US-specific aid?

MarzioBabille11 karma

Unfortunately, the issue of UN brand has sometimes been associated with the United States. UNICEF branding though is extremely appreciated across the country also because children remain a universal value and UNICEF, in my experiences of 3 years in the country, has never been perceived as antagonistic to any Islamic value or politicized.

unclaimed_wallet4 karma

Do you think that PTSD is a problem among the Iraqi citizens?

I have never seen any reports on PTSD in Iraq. The focus of the PTSD reports is usually US marines.

MarzioBabille7 karma

Broadly, psychological stability remains a problem of high importance among all populations traumatized by conflict, not only in Iraq.

Lord_Hex3 karma

UNICEF has a direct witness to the rampant, rampaging corruption in Iraq. What measures do they take to stop it? As a soldier there, I've seen Imams take pallets of supplies back to their homes and never hand it to their people.

MarzioBabille3 karma

Corruption remains one of the major obstacles for the resolution of ethnic and sectarian differences and development of the country. Tribalism remains even under the democratic rule. All need time.

Zomdifros3 karma

Is ISIS mostly a militia trying to gain power in a certain region, or are they actually more motivated by ideology and religion? And if so, what sets them apart from competing factions and states?

MarzioBabille9 karma

This is complicated. There is an excellent account on this issue on the last issue of the Economist. I suggest you read it.

nameless_faceless2 karma

I'm American, and see the Middle East on the news and internet all the time. It seems to me that there is nothing left untouched by the violence there. How can it be that anyone can have anything resembling a normal life there? How does one go to the store without worrying about getting shot? How are there houses left still?

MarzioBabille3 karma

Baghdad remains the center of unresolved issues, sectarian divide, political manipulation, and abuse of human rights. Over the last 3 years, the number of civilian victims to terror has escalated enormously. From the UNICEF point of view it remains sad and unacceptable the killing and maiming of children in a town that deserves high respect for it's history, culture, and place in the development of the human race.

ianorsomething2 karma

In your opinion, is it possible for Iraq to become a stabilized, free, and safe country? What do you think needs to be done to achieve it?

MarzioBabille2 karma

Too complicated. The United Nations are currently led by the Special Representative and our trying to maintain the country united and offer all the necessary humanitarian support to refugees, displaced, and vulnerable communities wherever they are located or on the the move.

philter4512 karma

Thank you very much for doing this ama.

What impact has our munitions, namely the depleted uranium rounds, made on the potable water supply in Iraq?

Have you witnessed increased cancer rates in children and the elderly and if you have would you attribute it to something like contaminated water and food or other factors (PTSD) and the like?

Are there still tensions between the different factions of the muslim faith in Iraq that make it difficult to operate or perform UNICEF tasks?

Thank you again in advance for the good work you do.

MarzioBabille3 karma

There is evidence of increased birth defects and leukemia in some areas of the country, but there is NO scientific evidence of correlation or cause/effect with the previous use of depleted uranium, although few non controlled studies disagree.

Yes, there are tensions along sectarian lines in Iraq. UNICEF works with government, partners, institutions, with no difference in mission objectives, process, and results.

stop_stopping1 karma

Of all you guys have done (and thank-you), what has had the most notable impact on the community? What has had the biggest impact on you?

MarzioBabille2 karma

The most notable impact on the community over the last days has been safe water to drink. The biggest impact on us has been the sense of purpose.

magicfinbow1 karma

Do you believe that diplomatic healings with Iran will actually come to any fruition?

MarzioBabille2 karma

Should these steps help uplifting children rights according to the Convention for the Rights of the Child which celebrates it's 25th anniversary today, I'm positive. In fact both Iraq and Iran signed it.

itpm1 karma

What type of aid are you providing to the people of Mosul and how can we contribute remotely either financially or non financially?

MarzioBabille3 karma

Financial contributions through UNICEF National Committees can make a substantive difference in the amount, quality, and aid provided to those children we reach. Be generous and make others do the same. We guarantee value for money, transparency in our budgets, and full accountability to public.