Occupation's Toll: 5 Million Iraqi Children Orphaned

5 Million Iraqi Orphans, Anti-corruption Board Reveals
Voices of Iraq

Iraq's anti-corruption board revealed on Saturday that there were five million Iraqi orphans as reported by official government statistics, urging the government, parliament, and NGOs to be in constant contact with Iraq's parentless children.

"The government should set up an institutional or legislative program to help the Iraqi orphans. Iraqi is an oil-rich country and it is not acceptable that its orphans remain groaning in this tragedy," the anti-corruption board chief, Moussa Faraj, said during a conference in Baghdad dedicated to orphans in Iraq.

Harsh Reality for Iraq's Orphans
Voices of Iraq

Unlike orphans in many countries in the world, most Iraqi orphans lost their parents around the same time and under horrible circumstances. In addition to their desire for compassion and care, those children need to overcome their sad memories and make a new beginning in life.

Recounting her traumatic memories, Halima, a nine-year-old girl who is living in a public orphanage, said that she lost her parents in a blast that ripped through a local market in a Baghdad neighborhood.

"We were shopping in a popular market in Baghdad al-Jadida neighborhood when a car bomb detonated. I still recall how bodies turned into charcoal," Halima told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI).

"I was taken to the hospital for treatment and was told that my parents were killed. My younger brother survived and was adopted by a loving family. It was my relatives who brought me to this orphanage," the girl added.

"Our problem here is that we do not receive academic education. If only the government could build special schools for us to guarantee our future," she said. […]

Nadira Habib, a member of the Committee on Family and Childhood Affairs in the Iraqi parliament, indicated that the situation requires wise handling.

"Iraqi orphans are increasing everyday because of the constant wars that the country has been going through," Habib explained, citing an estimated three to four million Iraqi orphans according to figures released by the Ministry of Planning and Development Cooperation.

Highlighting the importance of small loans to poor people, particularly those who lost their breadwinners, Habib said that only 469 orphans are currently sponsored by the government.

Meanwhile, Abir al-Jabli, a head of department in the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, said that sponsoring orphans should not only be the concern of the government. According to al-Jabli, those children would be better taken care of by their relatives.

Maysoun al-Damlouji, a member of the parliament's Civil Society Organizations Committee, slammed a recent government decision that closed down all private orphanages. "Instead of helping private institutions improve their performance and remove all obstacles hindering their work, the Iraqi government decided to close them down, adding to the complexity of the situation in the state-run institutions.

The diminishing number of orphanages in the country is only one aspect of the problem. According to al-Damlouji, negligence and carelessness are inherent in these institutions.

Two children recently died of cholera in al-Hanan Orphanage and investigations attributed the deaths to the use of contaminated water in the institution, al-Damlouji said.

The Hidden Iraq War: 5 Million Iraq War Casualties - 1 Million Killed plus 4 Million Refugees
Haroon Siddiqui
The Star (Toronto)

It is said that Iraq is the world's best-known conflict but the least well-known humanitarian crisis.

In the United States, where public attention span is low but the capacity for denial high, Iraq's daily carnage no longer commands headlines. American public discourse long ago shifted to the domestic political implications of Iraq for George W. Bush et al.

Those who do think of Iraq think mostly of the murderous sectarianism of the Sunnis and Shiites. If Muslims are killing each other, there's not much America can do, Iraq being another Yugoslavia - once the iron grip of Saddam Hussein or Josip Tito was gone, all the old animosities re-emerged.

But in Iraq, there was no such suppressed hatred. Shiites and Sunnis had always lived in harmony. Inter-marriage was common. The bombed-out Shiite shrine in Samara was in a Sunni neighbourhood.

The more apt parallel is with the 1947 partition of British India that precipitated a mass migration and a massacre among Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs who had lived in harmony for centuries.

When the state abrogates its most basic role of maintaining social order, anti-social forces and criminals can send scared people into a frenzy of primitive behaviour.

What's happening in Iraq is the direct result of American war-mongering and criminal incompetence.

Since the 2003 U.S. invasion, between 75,000 and 1.2 million Iraqis have been killed (depending on who's counting). This is in addition to the 1 million Iraqis, half of them children under 5, who died slow deaths during the 1991-2003 U.S.-led United Nations economic sanctions (a UNESCO estimate). […]

"Ninety per cent of those who die violent deaths are men, leaving huge numbers of widows and orphans without support," according to a special Iraq edition of Forced Migration Review, a publication of the Refugee Studies Centre of the University of Oxford (fmreview.org/Iraq).


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