Today I would like to continue the series I started before I left the cyber world while staying at my grandparents and talk about countries in the world that are still heavily impacted by conflict. Last time I talked about Afghanistan and I talked about numbers and tbh that is something that starts to annoy me in the news as well. I mean yeah it is interesting to see numbers and often they give us an indication of what the situation could be like but I think, sadly they do not have as big of an impact anymore and we soon start to forget that these numbers are people whose life is impacted by the situation way more than some numbers on our TVs. Yes I am going to talk about numbers again today, but please don’t think about them as another statistic that you read, think about them as the amount of individuals who have to go through incredible hardship in order to simply stay alive.
My subject today is Iraq another conflict area that we all hear about quite a lot in the news, I mean there is an attack in Baghdad on the news almost on a daily basis. I want to look at one of the most vulnerable group in society in general but especially in conflict: children. I came across a report by UNICEF Iraq which I kind of want to discuss a bit.
However first a couple of numbers (yay we like numbers, statistics are great!): all numbers in this bit are taken from an article in the Business Insider. There has been conflict in Iraq for decades but it had gotten worse from 2003 onwards after the US-lead invasion and again has been intensified since the IS grew and started causing more war and conflict in the Middle Eastern Region. The numbers in the article are all for the time between 2003 and 2013. During that time there have been 189,000 direct death, meaning only those that have been killed directly in war, not counting those that have been killed due to hunger, no access to water or medical aid, or any other hardship that comes along with a war. Furthermore, there have been 134,000 civilians killed and about 655,000 people have died that wouldn’t have died without an invasion in the Iraq. In addition there have been 2.8 MILLION people who have been displaced within the Iraq meaning that they had to flee their homes due to war related circumstances, may it be violence or the loss of access to certain necessary things or fear. I know that these are again “just” numbers and statistics, but I mean sadly often they are the only way for us to get an idea of how it is. ( Not saying that we’ll be able to understand what it would be like in that situation, but just to remember how bad it actually is.)
So now to the report by UNICEF Iraq that I wanted to talk about. In the report they name Iraq “one of the most dangerous place for children”. This is related to the US lead invasion not being the start of violence and conflict there, but to be a part of a history of over four decades of conflicts and violence from more than one side. Due to that UNICEF has detected that there are about 4.7 million children in Iraq that need some kind of assistance, may that be in the form of medical aid or access to food, water or school, or anything else. As Iraq is a neighbouring country of Syria, they are also hosting refugees of whom about a quarter are children. Most of those children are stuck in areas that are not in the control of the Iraqi government and therefore are even harder to access by the government as well as international aid groups. However, a lot of these children are not purely inaccessible for any kind of help, but are also facing the risk of danger in their everyday lives, dangers that no child should ever have to face. The types of risks they face are death, injuries through for example mines and other explosive devices , sexual violence, abduction or recruitment by groups to become soldiers voluntarily or forced. Abduction is one of the biggest struggles Iraq is facing with 1,495 children being REGISTERED as abducted in 2014, which on average equals about 50 children a month. As I said this number is of those children registered, the actual number is very likely to be much much higher. As to why, many girls are often used as ‘sexual objects’ and are often been held captive for a long time or they get married off to people within the groups. They are often subject to sexual violence and due to the brutalisation promoted by many of the groups in Iraq are under extreme danger. The boys are often abducted for recruiting purposes to fight for the groups and are often used as suicide bombers.
These numbers are terrifying and like I said those are things no child should ever have to go through anything like this. The conflicts have increased again so much since the IS has gained power and influence in the region, the unstable situation in Syria and other surrounding countries is not helping. Solutions need to be found, but until that is done all we can do in countries that have the privilege of being safer is to support those who have to flee their countries and homes, by supporting organisations such as UNICEF, Save the Children, Me to We, UNHCR, IRC and so many more and to be welcoming to the people who chose our countries in the hope of safety and to not forget that there are people behind the numbers, people whose feelings and needs matter!
To finish this article I want to show you a video that I found online of a guy that sadly lost his life this year in a bombing in Iraq. I want to give one of the many people that have lost their lives a face, because we need to stop being numbed by the numbers and news when a new attack happens, we need to understand and we need to learn, so here it is:
Lots of love,