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Support Iraqi orphans

Hussein Al-alak | 24.02.2011 09:46 | Education | Health | Iraq | World

Hussein Al-alak is a journalist, campaigner and chairman of Iraq Solidarity UK.

Thousands of orphans have been joining the fresh wave of protests across Iraq, where an estimated 4.5 million children have been calling on the government to provide them with support but are also urging that immediate action be taken to assist the 500,000 homeless children, who receive neither financial assistance from the government, or have anyone to actually care for them.

Back in 2005, a report was published by the United Nations Integrated Regional Information Networks, which brought to light the growth of child prostitution in liberated Iraq and stated that extreme poverty had lead to an increase in the kidnapping of children and forcing them into the sex trade.

It was noted that children as young as 13 had become victims of this sexual tyranny, which was being ignored by the US and UK, with the problem being intensified by the growing displacement of Iraqi nationals, as a consequence of sectarian tensions.

The Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration reported in June 2006, that around 40,000 Iraqi children had been displaced due to violence and in July, later published figures which stated that 90 children had died in Basra due to a "lack of medicine", with the number having risen from the previous year.

A shocking fact remains, that these deaths had to be recorded by local NGOs, as a consequence of the Iraqi authorities having no "official statistics about the number of children who have died", since liberation back in 2003, with a possible explanation for the lack of accounting into child deaths being the attacks against medical professionals.

The Iraq Index, compiled by the Brookings Institution in Washington, have estimated that up to 40 per cent of Iraq's professionals have fled the country since the occupation started, as a result of a campaign against them by terrorist organisations, with doctors and pharmacists topping the proverbial “hit lists“.

It is no surprise, that such findings fail to make the headlines, when silence has fallen upon the 400,000 Iraqi children, suffering from a poverty related condition called “wasting“, or the estimated 1.3 million Iraqi children, between 8 to 16 years of age, who over the past eight years have been forced to abandon education and take up jobs to supplement a families meagre income.

The Association of Psychologists of Iraq, have repeatedly warned about the damage caused to the mental health of Iraq’s children, with a dramatic growth in “learning” and other “impediments” brought on by the fear of guns, bullets and death”.

A justified fear one can safely assume, with one child describing to IRIN back in 2007, why he was afraid to go to school, “I'm scared of the killings taking place in Iraq. Many of my friends have either been kidnapped or killed.”

The article, which was titled “Id rather be illiterate”, also exposed how “attacks and kidnapping in schools have made parents afraid that the next victims would be their children“ and so they have preferred to keep them out of education until the “situation improves“.

Even University students have bore the brunt of Iraq’s turmoil, with Baghdad students complaining how "ninety per cent of our teachers have changed in the past years. The ones who have come to replace them are not well prepared or have no experience, leaving us without good professionals for teaching and training."

Over half of Iraq's population is below fifteen years of age and even former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was forced to admit, that for the children of Iraq, the war and invasion has been a "real disaster", with psychiatrists also describing the long term damage as having created a million potential Saddam Hussein’s.

But with the British people having now spent £9.24 billion on the Iraqi Government, through the invasion and occupation, along with an extra £557 million in aid packages alone, to prop up a regime described as being the “fourth most corrupt in the world“, the least that people can do now, is actually support Iraq’s orphans, by demanding a system is put in place, to provide welfare for each of these children

Hussein Al-alak
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