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For These Children of Iraq, Help Did Not Arrive

March 22, 2018 in Blogs

By Claudia Lefko, Common Dreams

The unseen cost of three decades of war in Iraq.


In the end, help did not arrive.

In 2001, a 10-year old boy sketched this image of his sister, Faiza Amir, in her sick-bed at what is now Children’s Welfare Teaching Hospital (CWTH) in Medical City Baghdad and then, in large letters above the drawing, he made his plea, in English: “Help Cheldrin (sic) in Iraq.” Nearly all the drawings had written messages asking for help. Many asked for God's help.

Muhanad Shawki directed his plea to a genie floating from a magic lantern: “I want to get out of
 the hospital,” he wrote on his perfectly rendered Disney-esque drawing of Aladdin.

The message was the drawing by 8-year-old Heerum Ali, terminally ill with Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Arabic script in bright orange crayon fills the paper : “I don't want presents, I want to live.”

But help did not arrive. Not for Faiza, or Muhanad or Heerum; all three children died from childhood cancer.

Faiza died from ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia) only days after her brother gave me his drawing as part of the Iraqi Children’s Art Exchange. Muhanad and Heerum relapsed after their treatment and also died. Help did not arrive for children and it did not arrive for the doctors and nurses who struggled to care for them without adequate facilities, drugs or adequately trained personnel in a country devastated by the First Gulf War and isolated from the international community by stringent UN-imposed economic sanctions backed by the U.S. government. Help did not arrive, and the humanitarian crisis continued to deepen.

And then, in March 2003—fifteen years ago this month—the U.S. and a few allies waged yet another brutal war, dealing a further blow to an already devastated country and people. Still, in the months following the invasion, there was some hope in this Baghdad hospital that the worst was over, that the tide would turn, and that Iraq and Iraq's healthcare system could begin to recover and rebuild.

Dr. Salma, the director of the pediatric oncology unit at CWTH traveled to Jordan in June 2003 for a meeting to discuss the status …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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