Sunday, December 23, 2007

Iraq children 'paying high price'

Two million children in Iraq are facing threats including poor nutrition, lack of education, disease and violence, the UN children's agency, Unicef, has said.

Hundreds were killed in violence during 2007, while 1,350 were detained by the authorities, it said in a new report.

Some 25,000 children and their families had to leave their homes each month to seek shelter in other parts of Iraq.

But Unicef said the fall in violence in recent months was opening a window for more international assistance.

Earlier, the top US military commander in Iraq, Gen David Petraeus, told the BBC that the number of violent attacks in Iraq had fallen to its lowest in two-and-a-half years.

According to recent figures, some 536 Iraqis have died in violence so far this month, compared with more than 2,300 in December 2006.

'High price'

In a report entitled "Little Respite for Iraq's Children in 2007", Unicef said Iraqi children continued to pay too high a price for their country's turmoil, and that this year things had got worse.

The report said an average 25,000 children per month were being displaced from their homes as their families fled violence or intimidation. By the end of the year, 75,000 children had resorted to living in camps or temporary shelters.

The disruption led to extreme hardship for many children and eroded access to education and healthcare, Unicef said.

Many of the 220,000 displaced children of primary school age had their education affected in a country where around 760,000 children (17%) were already absent from primary school. Only 28% of 17-year-olds sat their final exams.

Unicef said children in remote and hard-to-reach areas were frequently cut off from healthcare and that only 20% outside the capital, Baghdad, had working sewerage in their community. Access to safe water was also a serious issue.

Only 28% of 17-year-olds sat their final exams in the summer
But the agency said there had been some progress during 2007 - more than 4m children were vaccinated against polio and 3m against measles, and more than 500,000 internal refugees were given medical help, safe water and shelter by relief agencies and local communities.

It also said the current fall in violence provided an opportunity to deliver more aid and to get a clearer view of exactly what the conflict had done to Iraq's children.

"Iraqi children are paying far too high a price," said Roger Wright, Unicef's special representative for Iraq.

"While we have been providing as much assistance as possible, a new window of opportunity is opening, which should enable us to reach the most vulnerable with expanded, consistent support. We must act now."

Mr Wright stressed that Iraqi children should be the priority for international investment in Iraq as they would be the "foundation for their country's recovery".


Gerald said...

The Prodigal Man

Gerald said...

Why Bush and Rice Are Nervous

Gerald said...

The Murdering of Christ

Gerald said...

Ironically, some of the worst murderers of Christ are countries that pretend to be Christian, such as the United States, Great Britain, Ethiopia, which are, as I write, employing artillery strikes, air strikes and military engagements that inevitably hit civilian communities or random civilian victims, including children. Moreover, war creates circumstances that traumatize, terrorize and deprive children in these war zones of hope, health, education, and even food and shelter.

But the murder of Christ in the external world is but the result of the murder of Christ in each and every one of our internal worlds. A psychiatrist explained it to me once decades ago, how society takes every very young child, each of them a beautiful child of God, and begins to imprison that child behind bars of denigration, punishment, rejection and/or conditional love, entrapping the body in a coffin of repressed emotions, as the living essence within that child growing into an adolescent is met with painful prohibitions against being itself or expressing itself, including sexually ultimately, for sexuality connects one to Nature and the Cosmos in the most fundamental way. In a word, one becomes armored, armored against one's own feelings and emotions.

Gerald said...

Eventually one grows into a socially adjusted and rigid mannequin of the State, to lesser or greater degree, going through the motions of living while actually feeling dead or alienated on the inside, quite divorced from the divinity within, the Christ-essence within. Having lost this core essence, it is an easy step to become a mechanistic automation of the State, nowhere more manifest than in the Armed Forces of a country, where this rigidity, this armoring, is taken to its ultimate extremity both physically and psychologically, where one is now expected to blindly kill, and kill, and kill when so ordered, creating actual rigor mortis in one's victims.

The opposite of the living Christ within us is death and contraction. A nation or people that actually worships war is a culture that worships the annihilation of the life force, a death culture, in a word.

Gerald said...

Memories of Good Men

Gerald said...

Truth comes alive in us when we have the courage to defy the conditioning that makes war inevitable. This awakening must at last light up the spark of conscience in those Christians who continue to justify war. "A faith in truth's power to overcome the world by love and accepted suffering is as essential to an understanding of the Gospel as it is lacking in a Christianity which continues to endorse warfare." - James W. Douglass. Can we at least open ourselves to the soldiers who have felt and acted with the spirit of life even as they seethed with desire for revenge? What better furnace in which to forge the conscience of an American Christian?

"There can be no living speech about God, under any name, except where injustice is resisted by love in witness to His presence in the suffering." - James W. Douglass