FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

We Are Failing a Generation of Iraqi Children

Iraqi children have been the victims of the country’s dire political situation even before the start of the war led by the U.S. The negative effects on children started with the harsh United Nations sanctions against the regime of Saddam Hussein, and were considerably aggravated by the war, whose consequences are still felt.

Even now, hardly a week passes in Iraq without signs of violence leaving both children and adults with permanent physical and mental scars. Experts such as Dr. Haithi Al Sady from the Psychological Research Center at Baghdad University have warned of the high number of children suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

PTSD can have devastating effects on children’s brains, negatively affecting their development. It can lead to a decrease in the area of the brain known as hippocampus, which is critical for memory processing and emotion. In addition, if not treated, PTSD can lead to a wide variety of mental health problems later in life.

Most Iraqi children with mental health problems will be untreated, since the number of child psychiatrists in the country is insufficient to deal with those who need assistance. Dr. Haidr al-Maliki, who was an army psychiatrist during Saddam Hussein’s regime, now works as a child psychiatrist at Ab Ibn Rushed Hospital in Baghdad. He is one of the very few remaining child psychiatrists in the country.

A UNICEF report, “Nowhere to Go,” details the effects of continuing violence on Iraqi children. According to this report, 5 million children out of a total child population of 20 million are in need of humanitarian assistance. One in five children have stunted growth and over 7 percent of children under 5-years-old suffer from wasting, a disease which causes muscle and fat tissue to “waste” away.

Children are exposed to heavy metals and neurotoxins resulting from bomb explosions and other ammunition, since those weapons affect not only those targeted but all those living nearby. In addition, contamination from Depleted Uranium and other military-related pollution is probably the cause of the rise in congenital birth defects and cancer. Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, an Iranian toxicologist, has found “alarming” levels of lead in the “baby” or “deciduous” teeth of Iraqi children with birth defects

War and continuing violence in the country have had a serious impact on children’s education. According to UNICEF studies, 3 million children do not attend school on a regular basis, and 1.2 million children are out of school. In addition, half of all schools in Iraq are in need of urgent repairs.

The water and sanitation infrastructure, damaged by heavy bombings and not yet repaired has led to a weakened health care system that puts children’s health and survival into jeopardy. At least 70 percent of displaced children (from a total 1.5 million displaced children) have missed a full year of school. Children with disabilities do not have access to education.

Between January 2014 and May 2017 1,075 children were killed and 1,130 were maimed or injured. In addition, 231 children were recruited into the fighting. Despite laws against child labor, large numbers of children are compelled to work to be able to fulfill their own basic needs and to help their families.

The US-British occupying forces and the Iraqi government have failed to fulfill their most basic duties towards the children of Iraq, in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Iraq, Great Britain and the US have signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child, although the US is the only stable country in the world that has not ratified it The other two countries are Somalia and South Sudan.

There is a moral imperative to help Iraqi children lead normal lives. The US-led war has caused tremendous damage to the public health infrastructure and to the social fabric in the country. Although the war against Iraq has ended, the ruthless attack against Iraqi children continues.

More articles by:

Dr. Cesar Chelala is a co-winner of the 1979 Overseas Press Club of America award for the article “Missing or Disappeared in Argentina: The Desperate Search for Thousands of Abducted Victims.”

April 19, 2018
Ramzy Baroud
Media Cover-up: Shielding Israel is a Matter of Policy
Vijay Prashad
Undermining Brazilian Democracy: the Curious Saga of Lula
Steve Fraser
Class Dismissed: Class Conflict in Red State America
John W. Whitehead
Crimes of a Monster: Your Tax Dollars at Work
Kenn Orphan
Whistling Past the Graveyard
Karl Grossman - TJ Coles
Opening Pandora’s Box: Karl Grossman on Trump and the Weaponization of Space
Colin Todhunter
Behind Theresa May’s ‘Humanitarian Hysterics’: The Ideology of Empire and Conquest
Jesse Jackson
Syrian Strikes is One More step Toward a Lawless Presidency
Michael Welton
Confronting Militarism is Early Twentieth Century Canada: the Woman’s International League for Peace and Freedom
Alycee Lane
On David S. Buckel and Setting Ourselves on Fire
Jennifer Matsui
Our Overlords Reveal Their Top ‘To Do’s: Are YOU Next On Their Kill List?
George Ochenski
Jive Talkin’: On the Campaign Trail With Montana Republicans
Kary Love
Is It Time for A Nice, “Little” Nuclear War?
April 18, 2018
Alan Nasser
Could Student Loans Lead to Debt Prison? The Handwriting on the Wall
Susan Roberts
Uses for the Poor
Alvaro Huerta
I Am Not Your “Wetback”
Jonah Raskin
Napa County, California: the Clash of Oligarchy & Democracy
Robert Hunziker
America’s Dystopian Future
Geoffrey McDonald
“America First!” as Economic War
Jonathan Cook
Robert Fisk’s Douma Report Rips Away Excuses for Air Strike on Syria
Jeff Berg
WW III This Ain’t
Binoy Kampmark
Macron’s Syria Game
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia’s Top Cop Defends Indefensible Prejudice in Starbucks Arrest Incident
Katie Fite
Chaos in Urban Canyons – Air Force Efforts to Carve a Civilian Population War Game Range across Southern Idaho
Robby Sherwin
Facebook: This Is Where I Leave You
April 17, 2018
Paul Street
Eight Takeaways on Boss Tweet’s Latest Syrian Missile Spasm
Robert Fisk
The Search for the Truth in Douma
Eric Mann
The Historic 1968 Struggle Against Columbia University
Roy Eidelson
The 1%’s Mind Games: Psychology Gone Bad
John Steppling
The Sleep of Civilization
Patrick Cockburn
Syria Bombing Reveals Weakness of Theresa May
Dave Lindorff
No Indication in the US That the Country is at War Again
W. T. Whitney
Colombia and Cuba:  a Tale of Two Countries
Dean Baker
Why Isn’t the Median Wage for Black Workers Rising?
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia’s Top Cop Defends Indefensible Prejudice in Starbucks Arrest Incident
C. L. Cook
Man in the Glass
Kary Love
“The Mob Boss Orders a Hit and a Pardon”
Lawrence Wittner
Which Nations Are the Happiest―and Why
Dr. Hakim
Where on Earth is the Just Economy that Works for All, Including Afghan Children?
April 16, 2018
Dave Lindorff
President Trump’s War Crime is Worse than the One He Accuses Assad of
Ron Jacobs
War is Just F**kin’ Wrong
John Laforge
Nuclear Keeps on Polluting, Long After Shutdown
Norman Solomon
Missile Attack on Syria Is a Salute to “Russiagate” Enthusiasts, Whether They Like It or Not
Uri Avnery
Eyeless in Gaza   
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraq Then, Syria Now
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail