Iraqi Children: On The Brink of Disaster
We Are Iraqi Children
We do not speak for our country's government
We cannot even speak for ourselves.
Our eyes tell our stories for us.
We hide in corners hoping to vanish from the chaos in the streets of Baghdad.
We clutch worn dolls and tattered blankets to soften the fear so palpaple around us.
We hold tight to our daydreams to keep at bay the nightmares creeping close.
We are the ones left behind mute, but not blind.
Our legs are broken, our mouths are stuffed with ash,
our parents are dead or despairing, and we have only the moment.
Because we may not have the next.
Play these videos ...
*War Crimes Against Children Videos
This is the third time that Iraqi civilians, mostly children, have suffered the consequences of war in that country's recent history. The two previous conflicts were the eight-year war with Iran in the 1980s and the Persian Gulf War in 1991. This is happening in a country where almost half of the inhabitants are under the age of 18.
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*Unending Health Disaster For Iraqi Kids
The 2003 invasion witnessed the wholesale bombardment of targets inside densely-populated cities with DU (Depleted Uranium) shells. Christian Science Monitor journalist Scott Peterson registered radiation on a simple Geiger counter at levels some 1,900 times the normal background rate in parts of Baghdad in May 2003.
The city has a population of six million.
1991 - 2003
(During this period only 4 out of 368 articles were on how the Gulf War affected the health of Iraqi people. The majority of the rest were on the health effects of the conflict on the American troops who have suffered from a range of symptoms, which together form the Gulf War Syndrome.
There is very little interest in what is happening to the population which was the target of the war mayhem and its environmental hazards. The main body of research continues to focus on the health of the people who dropped the bombs rather than the people who received them.
If there is a Gulf War Syndrome it would be apparent in Iraqi women and children and not only amongst American or British soldiers.)
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*Where are the statistics on the Iraqi health disaster?
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*Soaring birth deformities and child cancer rates in Iraq
Over 1 Million Iraqi Children
Might Die in War
* "In the event of a crisis, 30 percent of children under 5 would be at risk of death from malnutrition" [p. 3(5)]. With 4.2 million children under five in Iraq , this represents 1.26 million children under five.
* "the collapse of essential services in Iraq ... could lead to a humanitarian emergency of proportions well beyond the capacity of UN agencies and other aid organizations"
* "all UN agencies have been facing severe funding constraints that are preventing them from reaching even minimum levels of preparedness".
* "the effects of over 12 years of sanctions, preceded by war, have considerably increased the vulnerability of the population".
* "WFP [World Food Programme] estimates that approximately 10 million people ... would be highly food insecure, displaced or directly affected by military action"
* "In the event of a crisis, only 39 percent of the population would be serviced [with water] on a rationed basis"
* "UNHCR estimates that up to 1.45 million refugees and asylum-seekers may seek to flee Iraq in the event of a military conflict"
* "Up to 900,000 people may be displaced in addition to the 900,000-1,100,000 existing IDPs [internally displaced persons]"
5,210,000 are highly vulnerable children under five and pregnant and lactating women.
500,000 potential direct and indirect casualties (overall population).
3,020,000 at nutritional risk (overall population).
18,240,000 might need access to treated water.
8,710,000 may need sanitation facilities.
*On The Brink Of Disaster
*Press Release Iraq
*Iraq analysis Update
Johanna Berrigan, a Catholic Worker lay person out of Philadelphia, is used to working with poor people, but she wasn't prepared for a "death row for infants" that she found in Baghdad hospitals.
The hospitals, devoid of almost everything they need, and staffed by doctors exhausted and grieving, are just a place to die for the thousands of Iraqi children suffering from diseases and infections brought on by the malnutrition and contaminated water.
Our government is responsible for that. The embargo on Iraq, which even denies the Iraqis chlorine to use for purifying their water supply, has become a weapon of mass destruction. Half a million dead children -- and that's a United Nations number -- is mass destruction, I would say.
Berrigan said in 1989 about 92 percent of the Iraqis had access to health care and that education was free through the university level. In that year, there was not a single case of cholera in the country. Today, there are thousands of cases -- a direct result of contaminated water.
There has been a fourfold increase in childhood leukemia, possibly linked to the depleted uranium the United States used in its shells.
She said a small infection that easily could be dealt with escalates to kidney failure and coma for the malnourished Iraqi children whose doctors lack medicines and even antiseptics.
In one hospital ward she toured, they were using kerosene in an attempt to sterilize because it was all they had.
But don't think the U.S. government isn't on the job. It has just threatened another group of Americans with tens of thousands of dollars in fines and long prison sentences for taking "medicines and toys" to Iraq.
Under this administration, compassion for dying children is apparently a criminal activity.
But, as Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf said, long before he came back to do speeches at $50,000 a pop ...
We have bombed Iraq back into the pre-industrial age."
That was a great feat for a superpower, taking on a
Third World country with only 100 or so out-of-date airplanes.
But he was admitting what is now evident: "We bombed a heck of a lot more than just military targets.
We need to halt this insane and inhumane policy of killing children and elderly. It has not hurt Saddam Hussein one bit.
In fact, people in Berrigan's group picked up the information that the army and the Baath party are pressuring Hussein to take a tougher line."
Bill Clinton, of the forked-tongue tribe, tries to pretend that letting Iraq sell a little oil can solve the problem. Unsaid, of course, is that Iraq's oil-producing equipment is in such bad shape that it can't even pump what it would be allowed to sell. And unsaid is all the delays and outright blocking of contracts the United States does behind the scenes.
And, of course, we now know that the United Nations arms-inspection team was riddled with spies and covert agents. So much for all those lies.
There's food in Iraq, smuggled and at black-market prices. People suffering are the poor, the rural, the elderly, the chronically ill -- and the children.
Berrigan noted that in the gift shops in the Al Rashid Hotel were nothing but the personal possessions of Iraqis who had pawned those belongings to get money for food or medicine.
If you have no compassion for Iraqis, then consider your own welfare. If we keep this up, long after Saddam Hussein is only a memory, Iraqis will be stalking Americans, in search of vengeance.
We are showing the world a cruel and ugly face, and sooner or later there will be payback. And, by the way, don't blaspheme by calling yourself a Christian while turning your back on these dying children.
Published in The Orlando Sentinel on March 2, 1999.
By Charley Reese
Increasing numbers of children in Iraq do not have enough food to eat and more than a quarter are chronically undernourished, a UN report says.
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*Children 'starving' in new Iraq
The first images shot by Western news agencies of what is also happening on the Iraqi front lines: babies cut in half, amputated limbs, kids with their faces a web of deep cuts caused by American shellfire and cluster bombs.
Nobody in the West will ever see these images because they were censored by editors in Baghdad: only a "soft" version made it to worldwide TV distribution.
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*American Cluster bombs liberate Iraqi children
When asked on US television whether the death of 500,000 Iraqi children as a result of sanctions was justified Madelaine Albright replied "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price - we think the price is worth it."
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*Killing the Children of Iraq
Have sanctions against Iraq murdered millions?
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*The Politics of Dead Children
*Children Pay Cost of Iraq's Chaos
*What About the Iraqi Children?
*Medical Aid For Iraqi Children