Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

More and more Iraqi children are being abandoned

Nine-year old Faleh Muhammed awoke one April day last year to find that his family had deserted him, leaving him alone with three other families in the abandoned building in Baghdad that they had shared. The other parents did not have the money to take care of Faleh so he had to start begging on the streets. One day he had a serious headache and fainted. He was brought to Yarmouk hospital by passers-by and eventually diagnosed with leukemia. Felah’s story is described in a November 21 IRIN article.

“I remember my father saying I was useless because I was rotten from the inside and I never understood why, but now I know that the reason for abandoning me was my disease,” Faleh said, adding that his father was poor and could not afford the treatment.

Today, Faleh is receiving treatment and being looked after by the local NGO Keeping Children Alive (KCA), which estimates that 700 children in Baghdad have been abandoned by their families since January 2006. However, KCA does not have the resource capacity to help Faleh and other children in his situation obtain the proper treatment that they need.

“The problem is even more serious among new-born babies and there are many cases of children aged 1-12 abandoned,” said Mayada Marouf, a spokesperson for KCA. “Most of them have a life-threatening disease and their families cannot afford treatment.”

“Abandoned children carry long-term psychological effects. There is a strong possibility that they could change their behavior after feeling ostracized,” Dr Ibrahim Abdel-Rahman, a psychiatrist at the Iraqi Aid Association (IAA), another NGO, said.

Today, over 1.6 million children under the age of 12 have become homeless in Iraq, according to the country’s Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. That number comprises nearly 70 percent of the estimated 2.5 million Iraqis who are homeless inside the country.

“There are no reliable estimates of how many orphans and abandoned children are in Iraq today but we believe, according to some data collected by local NGOs, that over 8,000 children are in the same or a similar situation to that of Faleh,” Mayada said.

For the full article, click here

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