mercredi 21 novembre 2007

One child dies every five minutes in Iraq because of the conflict


Cesar Chelala, Gulf Times

Tuesday, 20 November, 2007
Looking at photographs of Iraqi children maimed by the war makes the conflict unforgettable.
Reflecting on the causes that led to that war makes it unforgivable.
Slowly but steadily new information is coming out on the effects of the war on children, and how it has affected not only their health but also their quality of life and prospects for the future.
The International Children's Day is celebrated throughout the world today, but certainly not in Iraq, where children have become the most tragic victims of the conflict.One child dies every five minutes because of the war, and many more are left with severe injuries.
Of the estimated 4mn Iraqis who have been displaced in Iraq or left the country, 1.5mn are children. For the most part, they don't have access to basic health care, education, shelter or water and sanitation. They carry on their shoulders the tragic consequences of an uncalled for war."Sick or injured children, who could otherwise be treated by simple means, are left to die in the hundreds because they don't have access to basic medicines or other resources.
Children who have lost hands, feet and limb are left without prostheses. Children with grave psychological distress are left untreated."This is the assessment of 100 British and Iraqi doctors.
Never mind that according to UN Security Council Resolution 1483, both the US and Britain are recognised as Iraq's occupation powers and as such are bound by The Hague and Geneva Conventions that demand that occupying powers are responsible not only for maintaining order but also for responding to the medical needs of the population.
In the meantime, malnutrition levels among children continue to increase, and they are now more than double of what they were before the US led invasion. Iraq malnutrition rates are now on a par with Burundi, a central African country torn by a brutal civil war, and higher than Uganda and Haiti.
The number of Iraqi children who are born underweight or suffer from malnutrition continues to rise, and is now higher than before the US-led invasion, according to a report by Oxfam and 80 other aid agencies.
Almost a third of the population -" 8mn people - needs emergency aid, and more than 4mn Iraqis depend on food assistance.
The collapse of basic services affects the whole population.
For example, 70% of Iraqis lack access to adequate water supplies and 80% lack effective sanitation, both conditions breeding grounds for a parallel increase in intestinal and respiratory infections that predominantly affect children.
"Children are dying every day because of lack of essential medical support. The bad sewage system and lack of purified water, particularly in suburbs, has been a serious problem which might take years to solve,"‌ warns Ahmed Obeid, an official at the ministry of health.
At the same time, a variety of environmentally-related chronic diseases are emerging among children due to their exposure to environmental contaminants. Many cases of congenital malformations and cancer among children are believed to be the consequence of exposure to chemicals and radioactive materials that have significantly increased during the war.
And this without counting what is euphemistically called "collateral damage"‌, the hundreds of children killed by roadside bombs, during suicide attacks or attacks by the occupation forces.
I look again at the face of an anonymous child, a photograph by Dan Chung for The Guardian, his features burned almost beyond recognition, whose sad eyes seem to be telling the viewer, "What did I do to deserve this?"‌ And I cannot but think how miserable those adults are who destroy children's lives with total impunity.

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