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The UN says 3.6 million children in Iraq are at “serious risk” and has called on warring parties there to protect their rights.

In a fresh report issued on June 30, the UN children’s fund said that the number of children in Iraq at serious risk of death or wartime exploitation had increased by 1.3 million in the past 18 months.

Among the risks they face, according to UNICEF, are death, injury, sexual violence, abduction, and recruitment into armed groups.

UNICEF described Iraq as "one of the most dangerous places in the world for children."

The report said that the 2014 Islamic State invasion of large areas of Iraq's north and west and the military operation to unseat them have had a "catastrophic impact," with some 4.7 million Iraqi children in need of humanitarian assistance.

It said children were also affected by the lack of adequate health care, poor public services, and the desperate state of education.

Based on reporting by AP

Afghan refugees in Pakistan can remain in the country until the end of the year.

The decision by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif comes after an earlier deadline of June 30 for Afghan refugees to leave the country was set to expire.

Pakistan is currently hosting at least 1.5 million Afghan refugees.

In a statement late on June 29, the government said Sharif had ordered authorities to work with the UN refugee agency and the Afghan government to gradually relocate the refugee camps from Pakistan to Afghanistan.

Islamabad says a number of militants are hiding in the refugee camps.

The UN high commissioner for refugees, Filippo Grandi, visited Pakistan this week. He announced that an assistance package for Afghan refugees who decide to return home will double from $200 to $400.

Grandi on June 29 praised Pakistan for generously hosting Afghan refugees.

Based on reporting by AP

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