Friday, 30 March 2007

News: US occupation sets off sectarian atrocities in Tal Afar. Same story, different facts.

The World Socialist Website have blamed the American occupation in Iraq for Wednesdays killings in the town of Tel Afar.

Iraq: US occupation sets off sectarian atrocities in Tal Afar

They wrote: "As many as 80 people, mainly women and children, were killed by the two blasts. At least another 185 were wounded."

The Times Online reported the same story stating: "The rampage, which one local politician said was carried out by Shia militiamen aided by police officers, came in retaliation for a double lorry bombing in the town centre, which killed as many as 75 people — most of them Shias — and wounded 180 more."

The Times makes no mention of the death of children and reports less people were killed than the World Socialist Website.

Why is there this irregularity, is one source trying to over dramatise the event or is the other trying to play it down?

Either way it is likely that many Iraqi children were killed again on Wednesday as a result of sectarian violence.

Thursday, 29 March 2007

Lack of aid for Iraq's children

Since Save The Children withdrew there help from Iraq last year no other major organisation has stepped in to their shoes, leaving Iraq's children without the same aid that other countries are receiving. The level of violence in Iraq is so high that even aid workers are targeted by terrorists.

Save The Children in a press release last year announced: "The decision is linked to the deteriorating security situation in large areas of the country – which makes it increasingly difficult for our work to achieve significant impact for children.

The insecurity affects our ability to monitor our work effectively and maintain organisational standards: it also means that we are unable to extend our development programme from the North of the country, to the Centre and South as we had planned.

Save the Children UK has made the decision to withdraw from Iraq after much deliberation and with great regret.

It is anticipated that we will close our offices by March 2007 at the latest."

March is now here and the children are still needlessly dying. Is it not about time something was done to help?

Silencing the Children of Iraq

This article has links to videos where you can view for yourself many of the issues i have highlighted so far in my blog. Such as the psychological damage that Iraqi children are suffering from, the lack of safe education available to them, the threat they constantly feel they are under and the malnourishment that one in five of the estimated 13.8 million children are suffering from. Silencing the Children of Iraq :: from :: news from occupied Iraq - it

American children helping Iraqi children, North Andover, MA - Children helping children: Whittier Regional students send shoes to young people in Iraq

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

More on the effects of depleted uranium weapons in Iraq

Relating to my previous post on DU causing birth deformities and cancer in Iraqi children this interesting article gives further insight and contains graphic images. Uranium and the War The effects of depleted uranium weapons in Iraq :: from :: news from occupied Iraq - it

Friday, 23 March 2007

Children who have obtained pyschological disorders from the war have little, if any, access to therapy...

If we experience a trauma or bereavement we can be sure that counselling and psychiatric therapy are there to help if we need it. But what if the person you would usually turn to too talk about your problems, sadness or worries are taken away from you and therapy is in short supply? This is the problem Iraqi children face and subsequently pent up anxieties and lack of a strong support system equal psychological disorders.

Dr haidr al Maliki was an army psychiatrist during Saddam Hussein's regime. He has now been asked to open the child psychiatry centre in Ab Ibn Rushed hospital, but says: "I have no training in children, really.I read books and I try to help."

Read his story here:
BBC NEWS Have Your Say My Iraq: Child psychiatrist

He told the BBC: "Most of the children are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, especially those who have been exposed to kidnapping. Most of the children I see are bed wetting. They have very disturbed behaviour or epilepsy. We treat them with simple medication; it is very difficult. Most of the families come here for help and sometimes we can do nothing for them, expect offer support and advice."

If Iraq is going to have a future surely better care should be given to it's future generation. Childhood trauma can often lead to depression and other psychological disorders, such as schizophrenia, in later life so it is essential they are treated whilst young.

Thursday, 22 March 2007

Depleted Uranium: the silent killer and cause of soaring birth deformities and child cancer rates in Iraq?

Birth deformities and cancer rates among Iraqi children are soaring and Iraqi doctors are making renewed efforts to bring to the worlds attention this crisis.

It is being directly blamed on the widespread use of depleted uranium (DU) munitions by the US and British forces in Southern Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War, and then even greater use of DU during the 2003 invasion. The Depleted Uranium: has been called Pentagon Poison and the statistic's reveal this is an accurate term.

The rate of birth defects was 11 per 100,000 births in 1989 and rose to 116 per 100,000 in 2001, now it is soaring further.

Dr Ibrahim al-Jabouri, a medical reporter into birth deformities at Baghdad Univeristy reported to the UN last month: "In my experiments we have found some cases where the mother and father were suffering from pollution from weapons used in the south and we believe that it is affecting newborn babies in the country." According to the Depleted Uranium website.

The rise in birth defects is matched by a continuing increase in the incidence of childhood cancers.

A study by the Collage of Medicine at Basra University revealed horrific changes between 1990 and 1999. Cancer of all types rose by 242 percent in Basra, while the rate of leukaemia among children rose 100 percent.

A report into the phenomenon has noted: "Most doctors and scientists agree that even mild radiation is dangerous and increases the risk of cancer. Broken DU shells release uranium particles. The airborne particles enter the body easily. The uranium then deposits itself in bones, organs and cells. Children are especially vulnerable because their cells divide rapidly as they grow. In pregnant women, absorbed uranium can cross the placenta into the bloodstream of the foetus.

"In addition to its radioactive dangers, uranium is chemically toxic, like lead, and can damage the kidneys and lungs. Perhaps, the fatal epidemic of swollen abdomens among Iraqi children is caused by kidney failure resulting from uranium poisoning. Whatever the effect of the DU shells, it is made worse by malnutrition and poor health conditions....

"Iraq holds the United States and Britain legally and morally responsible for the grave health and environmental impact of the use of DU ..." (A version of the report is available at:

Recently the number of children under 15 falling ill with cancer has risen higher, the rate has now reached 22.4 per 100,000 more than five times the 1990 rate of 3.98 per 100,000.

The statistics point to the long-term consequences of depleted uranium contamination and are hard to ignore.

In ten years time experts predict Iraq will suffer an even greater cancer and birth defect epidemic as the 3000 tonnes of DU that was used in the densely populated city's of Iraq in 2003 begins to take its toll. The question is how will a country who's medical resources are already stretched to the limit cope with such a thing.

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Baghdad ER

This week marked the 4th anniversary of the war in Iraq with many T.V channels giving extra coverage to the war. One of the most touching and shocking documentaries I viewed this week was that entitled Baghdad ER, shown last night on BBC 2 at 11:25pm.

The film was only allowed to be made because the maker was an Iraqi doctor and when the head of security at the Al-Yarmouk hospital, who had granted the permission, was shot dead the filming also had to stop.

The film was a graphic illustration of the injuries and fatalities occurring every day on the streets of Iraq. Illustrating how overstretched doctors who are not trained to work in a war zone are performing surgery everyday on bomb and gunshot victims.

One women as she was transported to hospital after becoming one of the only surviving victims of a roadside bomb shouted: "Bring back Saddam. It wasn't like this under him!" An Iraqi view that the British and American government don't let us see. The women was referring to the fact that although living under an oppressive dictatorship was not good at least it had order and control. Whereas now Iraqi's live in a constant state of fear and random terror.

But the part of the film that really upset me the most and the part that relates to this blog was the amount of child deaths i saw and learnt of in the space of just this short piece of filming in a Baghdad hospital.

One eyewitness of a bomb attack said: " There were no police or Americans there, just children, and they exploded a bomb in the middle of them."

Ambulance workers have the most dangerous jobs, often arriving at scenes of suspicion and where people are seeking revenge. Ambulances have been stolen and implanted with bombs then blown up purely to cause civilian deaths. Responding to an emergency call an ambulance worker said: "Lots of kids where playing there and they think most of them are killed."

I learnt of a two year old boy who had his face blown off, a seven year old who witnessed all his friends die as he played in the street, a six year old hit by shrapnel whilst his dad and brother died. This last boy was treated with what little resources where left in the Baghdad ER, meaning holes were made in the side of his chest to drain his lungs of blood and a respiratory tube designed for an adult was put up his tiny nose.

The doctor said: "there are 28 million people in Iraq and the only people who are happy are psychopaths."

What i think this film highlighted most and what people in the West are most ignorant of is that just as we cant understand why the Iraqi's are killing each other neither can the innocent Iraqi people. It's only the extremists that are trying to create a divide, the majority of Iraqi people are happy and friendly with Shias if they're Sunni or Sunni's if they are Shia.

There is a dramatic lack of hope amongst the Iraqi people. Dr Ali optimises this sentiment when saying "it will never end".

Read another review of the programme here from a different angle:

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Iraqi children soldier on to achieve an education.

Iraq's children could live in a constant state of fear never knowing when their or their families lives will be ended abruptly and unfairly. Instead they battle on to achieve an education throughout personal tragedies and disruptions such as terrorist raids and bombings at their schools. Putting lazy complacent students in England to shame when we can't be bothered to do our homework because, for example, something more important is on T.V.

Iraq's children posses an outstanding amount of optimism for their futures despite living in such a worn torn dangerous country. Over the next few weeks I will explore in depth the aid that is being given to Iraq's students, such as the work by UNICEF and their Accelerated Learning Programme, for those that cannot attend regular school classes because of work or family commitments. I will also provide case studies of Iraqi children soldiering on to achieve an education despite personal tragedies and losses.

Monday, 12 March 2007

News: US plans to withdraw from Iraq if troop surge fails

George Bush confirmed at the weekend he will send 4,700 more troops to Iraq, just as Sunni militants began burning the homes of both Sunni and Shia Iraqis in a new intimidation technique. Leaving families fleeing in fear or because they now have no homes to inhabit. Thus adding even more digits to the amount of Iraqi refugees and no doubt imprinting horrific memories in to Iraq's children as they see their safe havens burnt to ash before their eyes.

A Pentagon official has however told The Los Angeles Times today: "This part of the world has an allergy against foreign presence. You have a window of opportunity that is relatively short. Your ability to influence this with a large US force eventually gets to a point that is self-defeating."

This thought is whats leading plans now being made to gradually withdraw combat soldiers from Iraq and place a greater emphasis on training if the current troop increase fails.

A brief guide to Iraq and its troubles

Since American missiles first hit targets in Baghdad on the 20th March 2003, beginning the campaign to remove its leader Saddam Hussein, a battle has since begun to restore security and civil order.

As the BBC's online news website puts it: "Since US-led coalition forces deposed Saddam in 2003 insurgents have targeted civilians, Iraqi security forces and international agencies. Tensions between Shia and Sunni Muslims have spilled over into brutal sectarian violence, prompting fears of civil war. Coalition and Iraqi troops have faced armed rebellions and guerrilla-style attacks."

The main reason for America's invasion was based on Saddam's alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Though inspectors later concluded that Iraq had no WMD stockpiles and yet still the war carries on with thousands of civilians, including children, dying for what some might say is now a war without a cause and without a foreseeable ending.

Find out more here:
BBC NEWS World Middle East Country profiles Country profile: Iraq

Friday, 2 March 2007

The confusing civilian death toll

The death toll for civilians killed in Iraq is steadily rising, indicating that although our government would like us to believe they've got the Iraq situation under control in fact the data shows quiet the opposite to be true.

This graph, taken from the BBC website, shows the predicted civilian death toll between 2003 and 2006.

The death rate is not falling.

This graph can only show a predicted death toll because many deaths go unreported for various inhumane reasons. It's as if the civilians are forgotten amongst the rubble, gun sound and chaos that fills Iraq daily.

Many of the killings involve torture and kidnapping, and are typically sectarian in nature. Most of the victims are men, but women and children are also dying in large numbers.

Children who have barely seen the world are being needlessly taken from it.

Civilian deaths in Iraq can come from many different sources. Insurgent attacks on coalition forces, the Iraqi military and police all tend to create civilian casualties, as can coalition attacks on insurgents.

Civilians also suffer disproportionate casualties when compared with the military. One estimate from US officials in late 2005 concluded that although about 80% of insurgent attacks were targeted against the coalition, the Iraqi population suffered about 80% of all casualties.

Therefore, if the insurgents are not killing who they set out to defeat and deter (the coalition forces) but instead are wiping out the Iraqi population, what is the point of this war and when will it end?