Iraq is seeking Australia’s help to train teachers to cope with a generation of traumatised students who have survived under Islamic State and war.
The terrorist organisation’s self-proclaimed “caliphate” effectively collapsed in July when Iraqi security forces reclaimed its previous stronghold Mosul.
In some areas kids have begun returning to school for the first time after a two-year disruption.
Iraq ambassador to Australia, Hussain Al-Ameri, said his country’s education department was desperately trying to help schools deal with post-war mental health issues and children who have been brainwashed by radical Islamic propaganda.
Dr Al-Ameri recently had preliminary talks with the Queensland education department’s international arm about a specialised training program.
“You have a generation of students who have endured extraordinary conditions,” Dr Al-Ameri told AAP.
Australia could potentially help out by offering a scholarship program to give psychological training to Iraqi teachers aimed at promoting resilience and healing, he said.
According to the United Nations children’s agency, almost 10 per cent of Iraqi children have fled their homes because of conflict since early 2014.
A UNICEF survey of the Kurdistan region found 76 per cent of children had changes in behaviour such as crying and screaming, nightmares, and antisocial and aggressive behaviour.
Youngsters have endured untold horrors of war from seeing family members murdered in front of their eyes, to rape, abduction and surviving air strikes and bombings.
Experts warn the psychological damage experienced by children in war zones can last a lifetime.
Dr Al-Ameri said as the military campaign in parts of Iraq winds down, it was in the interest of international security that other countries step up support for rebuilding flattened cities.
Kickstarting the Iraqi economy and creating jobs would go a long way towards warding off the threat of other extremist groups gaining a foothold.
“Housing, schools, work, sports centres – when we have these we have a healthy society,” he said.
He also called for an increase in foreign aid support.
Since 2014, Australia has provided $180 million of humanitarian assistance to Iraq including a $110 million contribution announced in April.