Saturday, June 30, 2007

Sự can thiệp của đế quốc mang lại gì cho trẻ thơ Iraq?

Trong 11 năm Iraq bị cấm vận, 500,000 trẻ nhỏ và thiếu niên đã chết vì thiếu thốn, nhưng như vậy chưa thấm thía gì so với bây giờ vì chúng phải đối diện với bạo lực chết chóc hàng ngày. Ngoài chết chóc vì bom đạn ra, chúng còn chịu ~ hậu quả về nặng nề về tâm lý mà khó có thể cân đo đong đếm chính xác được.

Trích Washington Post:

...Iraq's conflict is exacting an immense and largely unnoticed psychological toll on children and youth that will have long-term consequences, said social workers, psychiatrists, teachers and aid workers in interviews across Baghdad and in neighboring Jordan.

"With our limited resources, the societal impact is going to be very bad," said Haider Abdul Muhsin, one of the country's few child psychiatrists. "This generation will become a very violent generation, much worse than during Saddam Hussein's regime.

Since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, 4 million Iraqis have fled their homes, half of them children, according to the United Nations Children's Fund. Many are being killed inside their sanctuaries -- at playgrounds, on soccer fields and in schools. Criminals are routinely kidnapping children for ransom as lawlessness goes unchecked. Violence has orphaned tens of thousands...."

...Abdul Muhsin started to focus on children only last year. Like many of the estimated 60 psychiatrists who remain in Iraq, he treated only adults before the invasion. Back then, he said, children with psychological problems were a rarity.

Inside his bare office at Ibn Rushed Psychiatric Hospital, where armed guards frisk patients at the entrance, he flipped through a thick ledger of patients. In the past six months, he has treated 280 children and teenagers for psychological problems, most ranging in age from 6 to 16. In his private clinic, he has seen more than 650 patients in the past year.

In a World Health Organization survey of 600 children ages 3 to 10 in Baghdad last year, 47 percent said they had been exposed to a major traumatic event over the past two years. Of this group, 14 percent showed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. In a second study of 1,090 adolescents in the northern city of Mosul, 30 percent showed symptoms of the disorder.

...Many of the children Abdul Muhsin treats have witnessed killings. They have anxiety problems and suffer from depression. Some have recurring nightmares and wet their beds. Others have problems learning in school. Iraqi children, he said, show symptoms not unlike children in other war zones such as Lebanon, Sudan and the Palestinian territories.

On this morning, 4-year-old Muhammad Amar had a blank look on his soft, round face framed with curls of black hair. When mortar shells pummeled his street seven months ago, he was too terrified to cry. "He remained still, in shock. He froze," said his father, Amar Jabur, standing in the sunlit courtyard of Ibn Rushed. Muhammad is showing signs of epilepsy and had a mild seizure the night before.

Abdul Muhsin said he believes there could be a link between the explosions and the seizure, and recommended a brain scan to rule out other causes. At the very least, he said, the violence worsened the child's condition.

After the visit, Jabur cast a glance at his silent son. "It is quite possibly because of the fear," he said. "We adults are afraid of what's happening in Iraq. How do you think it will affect the children?"

Three months ago, Abdul Muhsin treated his most horrific case. A 13-year-old girl had been kidnapped in Baghdad's Mansour neighborhood and held for a week in a house with 15 other girls. Some were raped in front of her, another was fatally shot. The girl was released after her parents paid a $6,000 ransom. But she is still imprisoned by her experience.

"She was in a terrifying condition," recalled Abdul Muhsin. "She was shouting. She abused her parents verbally and physically."

He and other child specialists say as many as 80 percent of traumatized children are never treated because of the stigma attached to such ailments....

...At Sadr General, as many as 250 children arrive for treatment every day, nearly double from last year. "We only treat the first 20 children who arrive and then we run out of drugs," Sahib said. There is no child psychiatrist on staff...

Parents Lost

At the orphanage, Dina Shadi sleeps a few feet away from Marwa Hussein. Twelve-year-old Dina had recently received two telephone calls from relatives. She learned that her 17-year-old brother had been killed and that her aunt had been kidnapped and executed.

"She totally collapsed," Tahsin recalled.

"I was not able to control myself that day. I cried," Tahsin said, her voice cracking. "There is a great amount of sadness here. No matter what we do for the children, it will never replace the kindness of their mother and father."

"Now Dina expects another call with more bad news. She has a very dark image of the future. More and more, she's afraid of the future."

UNICEF officials estimate that tens of thousands children lost one or both parents to the conflict in the past year. If trends continue, they expect the numbers to rise this year, said Claire Hajaj, a UNICEF spokesperson in Amman, Jordan.

While many children at the orphanage have lost one or both parents, others have been abandoned or sent here because their parents can no longer afford to care for them.

"The tragedy is that there's an upswing in number of children who are losing parents, but you see a decrease in the ability of the government, the community and even the family to care for separated and orphaned children because of violence, insecurity, displacement, stress and economic hardship," Hajaj said. "These kids are definitely the most vulnerable around."

Bombs have exploded near Alwiya, and the sound of gunfire is frequent. There is always the possibility of an attack. In January, mortar shells landed in a Baghdad school, killing five girls.

Tahsin still had one more task this day. She had to inform two motherless sisters that their father, a Sunni truck driver, would not be coming to see them. He had been kidnapped by Shiite gunmen at a fake checkpoint and executed...

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