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[casi-analysis] Iraq's Children Pay the Price - Again

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Childhood snatched away by the embargo and now even more eroded by
'liberation'. Is there any shame in Washington or Whitehall ... f.

Iraqi Children Pay the Price of "Freedom"
Iraqi children are paying the price for the occupation.
By Saleh Amer, IOL Correspondent
MOSU, February 22, 2005 ( ­ Almost two years after the
US-led forces occupied Iraq, the children of the northern city of Mosul have
united in grief and need, working around the clock to help provide for their
one-time well-to-do families, who are now living below the poverty line.
³I have dropped out of school and Iım now selling plastic bags in the cityıs
market to make ends meet,² eight-year-old Jamal Mohammad told Tuesday, February 22.
Jamalıs father was an army officer, but he has not returned home since the
US-le invasion-turned-occupation of the Arab country.
³I have become the breadwinner of my four-member family and I have to work
hard for them. There is no time to play,² Jamal added as he was in a tearing
Hassan Omar, 11, is selling fuel with his younger brother at double the
regular price at fuel stations.
³Every day, my brother and I rotationally buy fuel from stations and sell
them at sidewalks,² said Omar whose father and elder brother were detained
by US occupation troops seven months ago.
Hassan Ali, 10, is no better than the others. He is forced to work as
mechanicıs apprentice in Al-Karama industrial district.
³My father was shot dead by US occupation forces one year ago and I have no
other option but to work at this workshop for fixing cars,² Ali told IOL
after an exhausting 14-hour workday.
The backbreaking work has indeed put years on Jamal and his fellow children,
who have become a phenomenon in post-invasion Iraqi society, paying the
silent cost of the US-led occupation.
Thousands of children have to labor at the crack of dawn every day to
provide for their destitute families, IOL correspondent says.
The children can no longer enjoy themselves, leaving the playgrounds and
schools for traffic jams and workshops working as apprentices.
³Such stressful work will make them go prematurely grey,² said Mowafak
Al-Weisi, professor of sociology in Mosul University, told IOL.
³They further pick up disastrous habits like smoking and addiction, not to
mention some bad manners.²
Weisi also said those children are exploited by their employers as they are
poorly paid.
³When they grow up, they will try to vent their childhood complexes on other
children and become preoccupied with one and only thing; namely, how to make
A report by British NGO Medact revealed in November that Iraqis will feel
the brunt of the US-British invasion for years and ³maybe generations² to
come with the ³alarming deterioration² of the health care system in the
war-ravaged country.
The Iraqi health ministry warned in November that acute malnutrition among
Iraqi children has nearly doubled since the US invaded the country in March
The United Nations children's fund (UNICEF) had warned that the number of
children who suffer from diarrhea, Iraq's number one killer of infants, has
more than doubled under occupation.
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