For the third time in 20 years the IRAQI children were caught up in war. And from the early stages of the current IRAQ WAR, the UNICEF expressed its deep concern over the children’s physical and mental health, even before the extent of the fighting and its devastating impact on civilians emerge.
But now the true picture is getting clearer and the extent of devastation and the deteriorating conditions the IRAQI CIVILIANS and children are facing started to become unbearable.
A report released recently by The Association of Psychologists of IRAQ (API), found that the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq has greatly affected the psychological development of many IRAQI children.
"Children in IRAQ are seriously suffering psychologically with all the insecurity, especially with the fear of kidnapping and explosions," API spokesman Maruan Abdullah, said, adding that "in some cases, they're found to be suffering extreme stress."
Almost half of the Iraqi population is aged under 18. Even before the March 2003 war was launched, many children were highly vulnerable to disease and malnutrition. But now, it’s been found that the acute malnutrition among the IRAQI children has nearly doubled since the U.S.-led invasion of the country, almost three years ago.
The API report findings, released on 5 February, are based on a four-months study that included interviewing more than 1,000 children in the country.
The survey was conducted following a noticeable increase in the number of children seeking psychological counseling, with many having learning difficulties, Mr. Abdullah said.
92 percent of those interviewed were found to have learning impediments, resulting from the climate of fear and insecurity they’re surrounded with.
"It was incredible how strong the results were," said Abdullah. "The only things they have on their minds are guns, bullets, death and a fear of the U.S. occupation."
"The fear of kidnapping has been the main reason for learning deficiencies, especially among children whose parents are government employees or high-ranking professionals like doctors and teachers," Abdullah noted.
"About 50 of them are in a critical state of fear that could cause mental retardation if it goes untreated," he added.
But because "many Iraqis believe that psychologists treat crazy people," "they don't bring their children in for treatment."
A program developed last July by the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) to help children suffering from the trauma of war was frozen a couple months later due to a shortage of funding.
"Previous studies of children confirmed such psychological effects," said IRCS spokeswoman Ferdous Al Abadi. "But, unfortunately, we couldn't continue with studies due to a lack of money and the need to give preference to displacement emergencies."
The API calls on the international community to take action and help establish centers specialized in child psychology and programmes to save the Iraqi children who are now paying the high price of the war.
An eight-year war with Iran in the 1980s and the Gulf War in 1991 and the current illegal war led by the United States have greatly damaged IRAQ's infrastructure and made fear and insecurity part of the civilians daily life.
Even the UN humanitarian program the Oil for Food Programme (OFFP), passed by the Security Council in late 1996, failed to reduce the impact of sanctions which were imposed with efforts exerted on the world body by Washington.
The IRAQI population has been suffering for long years in wars they got caught up by a dictator leader then by an invading country, the U.S.
Source: alJazeers and Agencies