Lost childhood, amputation, trauma, violence, displacement, and school dropouts take their toll on the most vulnerable. Children affected by multiple conflicts in Iraq face an uncertain future. Explosive weapons kill and injure thousands of civilians each year, during and after the armed conflict. Children account for roughly half of the casualties from explosive ordnance.
Armed conflicts are increasingly fought in populated areas, like cities, where children represent a large portion of the community. When explosive weapons are used in these areas, over 90 percent of victims are civilians – many, children or their parents. These are the repercussions of years of conflict in Iraq. In the 1980s, Iraq and Iran plunged into a war that lasted more than eight years. Now, thirty years later, thousands of victims continue to scatter the remains of loved ones in areas around the border, such as the Basra region which is still contaminated with explosive remnants.
Iraq remains among the countries most contaminated by landmines and explosive devices in the world. According to the United Nations Mine Action Service, Iraq has approximately 2,850square kilometers of recorded contaminated land, including areas recaptured from the IslamicState of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), putting at risk 8.5 million people.
The level of contamination in the areas that were controlled by ISIS in Iraq is considered to be three-dimensional, which means that it can exist anywhere: buried in the ground, attached to refrigerators, doors, or windows, hidden inside the rubble, in toys of children, household appliances, etc. This, coupled with high levels of destruction and ongoing internal grievances/tensions continue to pose.
In Iraq, children live and grow up with gun violence as background music. Conversations about the war have become the norm. These are the stories of young people who woke up in hospital after days in a coma, without legs, hands, or eyes. Those who survived carry with them an indelible trauma, with a whole life ahead of them. Their scars are proof that the consequences of war do not end with the raising of flags or the proclamation of victory speeches. The resilience of children like Dalia, which wants to open her own business when she grows up, is a seed of hope for the future of Iraq. Their stories should not be forgotten.
Text: Juan HaroEl PAIS SEMANAL: https://elpais.com/eps/2022-07-09/las-heridas-abiertas-de-la-infancia-en-irak.html