One in Eight Iraqi Children Die Before the Age of Five
by James Glaser
May 11, 2008
That's right. According to Save the Children, a non-governmental relief organization, one in eight Iraqi children die before they reach their fifth birthday, and that amounted to 122,000 children dying in 2005 alone.
The death of any child breaks the heart of its parents, and in Iraq today there are untold numbers of parents trying to live on after the death of their child. Here in America we morn the deaths of almost 4,000 of our young men and women who have been killed in Iraq, while in Iraq, over 10,000 children under the age of five die every month. Thousands more Iraqis of all ages die each month due to the violence that war brings with it. If our war over there ever stops, Iraq will be in a total state of morning, with every family living the heartbreak of losing someone, but today with the continued violence, there is little chance to grieve their losses.
In a report written by Dahr Jamail and Ahmed Ali, Inter Press Service tells us that "the United Nations estimates that half a million Iraqi children died during more than 12 years of economic sanctions that preceded the U.S. invasion of March 2003, primarily as a result of malnutrition and disease."
Last July, Oxfam International released a report that said, "Childhood malnutrition in Iraq has increased 9 percent since then."
The Children's Fund of the UN tells us that at least 2 million Iraqi children lack adequate nutrition.
Here is what really gets to me. After listening to our Washington politicians go on and on about how we are helping the Iraqi people, and after hearing how many hundreds of billions of dollars we have spent in Iraq, we find out the Iraqi people have a terrible living conditions. Here is what the UN Children's Fund has found out about the conditions Iraqi children live in. "Only 40 percent have access to safe drinking water."
If you think back to the start of this war, we decided to bomb Iraq's water treatment plants. Yes, that is a war crime, but then much of this war has been a war crime.
"Only 20 percent of people outside Baghdad have a working sewage service." Yes, it's true, we bombed sewage treatment plants when we first attacked. (another war crime)
Here's another number that is also a crime. According to the UN, "17 percent of Iraqi children are permanently out of primary school, and an estimated 220,000 more are missing school because they and their families have been displaced. That adds up to 760,000 children out of primary school in 2006."
Now these numbers are only for the Iraqi children who still live in Iraq. There have been an estimated 2.25 million Iraqis who have fled their country to escape the violence there. That means that hundreds of thousands more Iraqi children have had their education interrupted or ended.
What do you think life in Iraq will be like if and when our troops leave? For over five years the children of Iraq have been in a war zone, and by now, I doubt that there is a child in Iraq who hasn't had some close family member killed or maimed.
Here in America we are worried about the tens of thousands of our troops who are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress, and economists try to estimate what that will cost us long term for their treatment.
In Iraq, all the people have been living in a war zone like our troops have, but unlike our troops, the Iraqi people, adults and children have had over a five-year tour of duty, and there is no end in sight. There is little doubt that Iraq will have millions of their people suffering with a lifetime of Post Traumatic Stress, and who will care for them?
If you are an Iraqi young adult, born in say 1987, that makes you twenty years old, about the same age as many of our young soldiers and Marines fighting there today. But if you are that Iraqi, you haven't lived the life of our young American troops. When you were little, you started out in that First Gulf War, and then you had twelve years of growing up with siblings, cousins, and neighbor children dying at an alarming rate from the sanctions put on by the United States. (Remember our own Secretary of State admitted that our sanctions killed those children.) Today, five years after those sanctions were lifted, that young Iraqi adult has lived through over five years of constant warfare in which hundreds of thousands of his fellow citizens have been killed or wounded. On top of that there is the high death rate among children under the age of 5.
Before the war started, Iraq had a population of 25 million. Today, with all the people killed, and with those who fled, the population is down to maybe 23 million. So if you have hundreds of thousands killed and wounded by the war, and over a hundred thousand young children dying every year from malnutrition and disease, you have a very high chance of one of those deaths or injuries directly affecting you.
How many parents in Iraq do you think have skated through this war unaffected by the violence? How many children do you think haven't lost a friend or loved one? Yes, many of our troops had multiple tours in the Iraq war zone, and because of that we are seeing thousands who are requesting help with their mental health. The children and the adults of Iraq don't have time away from the war zone to try and put things in order. The Iraqi people live day in and day out, week after week, year after year in a war zone. War is just as hard on them as it is on our troops, so we know there are going to be millions of Iraqis needing a life time of help with their mental health.
Who is going to help the Iraqi people? Who is going to help the Iraqi children who are the future of that country? What responsibility do we bear for attacking that country?
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