Friday, March 30, 2007

Children and the Traumas of War

Three Stories about Iraqi Children:
On an Iraqi morning Khaled, 11 years old, went, as he used to do everyday, to the nearby school in central Baghdad. What was unusual this time was by the end of the first lesson blasts rattled the school snatching the children's innocence from their faces.

It was horrible. Windows shields smashed hitting the children's soft bodies. Khaled, like others, hide himself under desks that could not withstand the falling ceiling and its fan. Exercise books, pencils, blackboard and the pupils' dreams were all buried under the falling ceiling. All went to the sky except for Khaled and his colleague who lost an arm. The tragedy is still preoccupies this little Iraqi child, though the incident occurred sometime ago. He is not the only to suffer from similar experiences, as scores of kids his age share with him the same experience. Many are still paying, along with their families, the endless war bill. The rest of the story

There are millions of stories like Khaled's, in Iraq and other war-torn countries. Children are killed and forced to kill. They are orphaned. They are raped. They lose their homes, schools, and any sense of stability. They are hungry, sick, and frightened. And often, very traumatized. Without rehabilitation and healing, they can sometimes grow up to perpetuate the violence, because they don't know anything else.

Iraqi boys in a refugee camp in Baghdad play with toy guns.
Photograph: Namir Noor-Eldeen/Reuters

Abdul-Muhammad and his five younger brothers, aged between six and 12, should have been at school. But their mother, Sayeeda, like thousands of parents in Iraq's perilous capital city, now keeps her boys at home. Three weeks ago, armed men had intercepted their teacher's car at the school gates, then hauled him out and slit his throat. Just like in their game.

"That day they came home and they were changed because of the things they'd seen," said Sayeeda as she ladled rice into the boys' bowls. "The youngest two have been wetting their beds and having nightmares, while Abdul-Muhammad has started bullying and ordering everyone to play his fighting games. I know things are not normal with them. My fear is one day they will get hold of real guns. But in these times, where is the help?" The rest of the story

These children are paying the price of wars they did not start - some adults somewhere sitting safely in their offices, war rooms, and white houses made the decisions that cause innocent children to suffer. When you ask children, they overwhelmingly say they want peace.

Just 8 years old, Noor fell victim to an all-too-common crime in Baghdad. Kidnapped from school, she was held for ransom – beaten, blindfolded, and locked in an empty room – for four days.

Her father raced to come up with the money, fearing she would be yet another casualty in the city's plague of abductions. A driver by occupation, he sold the family's car to give his tormenters what they wanted: $8,000 for his daughter's life.

Noor and her family fled Baghdad. But three years later she was still haunted by her memories. They joined some 1 million Iraqis now living in Syria – among them an untold number of children struggling to cope with the emotional wounds of war.

For Noor, and many other Iraqi children like her, there appeared to be no place to turn until a Syrian psychiatrist, risking his job at a state institution, defied authorities and decided to help. The rest of the story

Meanwhile, even American kids are suffering because of war: As Iraq war cost climbs, 9 million U.S. kids lack medical coverage. There's enough money to ensure all Iraqi kids are dead, displaced, or scared, but apparently not enough to keep American kids healthy - really, click this link to put the cost of war into perspective - it's truly disgusting.


Mike said...

One can only hope that by playing and pretending, those boys can find a way deal with the trauma.

But I doubt it. Another generation wasted.

TomCat said...

So sad and so true. In a recent poll, the majority of Iraqis believe that they were better off under Saddam. Thanks GW!!