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Iraq: 4.5 Million Children Undernourished


By IRIN

Baghdad - Apart from dodging bombs and bullets in their schools and neighbourhoods, children in Iraq are suffering from worryingly high levels of malnourishment, according to specialists.

Poverty and insecurity are said to be the main causes of the children's deteriorating diets. Despite efforts by NGOs and the Iraqi government, violence and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people are making it very difficult for monthly food rations to reach those families that need them most.

"We are displaced and have to change our place [because of spreading sectarian violence] every month, making it difficult for us to get our food rations. As a result, our children are constantly ill and are malnourished because we don't have enough money to afford good food," said Samira Abdel-Kareem, a mother-of-three who was forced to flee her Yarmouk neighbourhood of Baghdad to the outskirts of the city.

"I lost a child three months ago because of malnutrition. He was only two years old. I don't want to lose my other three children and hope someone can help us overcome this problem," she added.

According to the United Nations Children's Agency (UNICEF), about one in 10 children under five in Iraq are underweight and one in five are short for their age. This means that some 4.5 million children in the country are under-nourished.

But this is only the tip of the iceberg, according to Claire Hajaj, Communication Officer at UNICEF Iraq Support Centre in Amman (ISCA).

"Many Iraqi children may also be suffering from 'hidden hunger' - deficiencies in critical vitamins and minerals that are the building blocks for children's physical and intellectual development," Hajaj said. "These deficiencies are hard to measure, but they make children much more vulnerable to illness and less likely to thrive at school."

Hajaj emphasised the importance of children being properly fed in the first two years of their lives, particularly the first six months when breastfeeding is vital.

"Iraq's exclusive breastfeeding rates are very low compared to other countries in the region. Only 12 percent, as of the last survey, which took place several years ago," Hajaj said.

Diarrhoea and Pneumonia

"Infant formula use is still widespread, increasing the risk of illnesses like diarrhoea and pneumonia, which also contribute to undernutrition. Diarrhoea is a major risk in the absence of safe water and basic sanitation, a problem now affecting many Iraqi communities," Hajaj said, adding that the first step in preventing undernutrition in children is to ensure proper care for pregnant mothers.

But with insecurity forcing the closure of many heath outreach centres, and hospitals and clinics lacking medicines and specialists, Iraq's population is increasingly being cut off from access to proper health care, say officials at UNICEF and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

Children in the most restive parts of the country - such as Baghdad, Anbar, Diyala, Missan and Basra provinces - are less likely to receive critical preventative health care.

Dr Mayssun Abdel-Rahman, a paediatrician at Baghdad's Children Teaching Hospital, said that the country's health system is crumbling and that it was only UNICEF and the World Health Organization that were keeping it afloat. But much more needs to be done, she said, as hundreds of children are dying from easily cured ailments, such as diarrhoea and undernutrition.

Nutrition indicators have traditionally been the lowest - three times the national average - in the poorer southern provinces of Iraq and generally in rural areas, according to UNICEF. Now, because of violence, these areas suffer greater poverty than ever before.

_______________

CORRECTION:

Of Iraq's 4.8 million children under five, one in five are thought to be chronically malnourished and about one in 10 underweight
DUBAI, 12 March 2007 (IRIN) - IRIN wrongly attributed an estimate of 4.5 million undernourished Iraqi children to UNICEF in a recent report. IRIN regrets the error.

There are an estimated 4.8 million children under five in Iraq in total. About one in five of them are thought to be chronically malnourished ("stunted") and about one in 10 are underweight, according to UNICEF.

Arriving at a total figure of malnourished children in Iraq is difficult. Some children under five suffer more than one condition at the same time. The nutritional status of children over the age of five is rarely surveyed. There is little reliable data on micronutrient deficiencies in children in Iraq or any chronic malnourishment of children over five. Furthermore, much of the available data is becoming out of date, and does not reflect the effects of the last year of rising insecurity, aid officials point out.

There are an estimated 13.8 million children overall in Iraq, according to UN figures.

Full revised article: Malnutrition among under-fives
Many apologies,

Ben Parker
Editor-in-Chief
IRIN

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I cannot at this point understand how much more hardship and death the whitehouse and the so called new congress can let this go on. Are they not human anymore? Is that the price to be in politics today, you become a thing!with no humaness left?
I tell you this, Bush WILL pass away from this earth someday as will all the others responsible for this needless man made holocaust and he and the others will get to spend eternity with Saddam and his boys in hell, maybe hell looks like Iraq does now.

WHO IS THE BETTER MAN FOR IRAQ, GEORGE BUSH, OR SADDAM HUSSEIN?

UNDER SADDAM I DO NOT REMEMBER BOMBINGS AND KILLINGS EVERYDAY.
IF IRAQ IS BETTER OFF TODAY WHY DOESN'T GEORGE BUSH GO THERE AND TELL THE IRAQ'S TO STOP KILLING EACH OTHER? AFTER ALL WASN'T IT GEORGE BUSH'S IDEA TO GO TO WAR AND REMOVE THE LEADER, SADDAM HUSSEIN.
WHEN A PRESIDENT LIES AND TAKES THE UNITED STATES TO WAR ISN'T IT THE PEOPLES RESPONSIBILITY TO REMOVE HIM AND HIS ADMINISTRATION?

THE COFFINS OF AMERICANS WHO DIED IN IRAQ STRETCHES ALMOST SIX MILES.
THE COFFINS OF IRAQ'S KILLED BECAUSE OF THE UNITED STATES WAR AGAINST IRAQ STRETCHES ALMOST ONE THOUSAND MILES.

AGAIN I ASK WHO IS THE BETTER MAN FOR THE UNITED STATES AND IRAQ?
GEORGE BUSH OR SADDAM HUSSEIN?

I WANT TO VOTE FOR SADDAM HUSSEIN NOW. WHAT ABOUT YOU?

DonP Starvation, death from lingering effects from DU, lack of clean water, forced from their homes and essentially rendered refugees in their own land. What more can we do to these people? The most powerful military in the history of the world has shown that they can claim the oil, and protect the NGOs who are exploiting the poor, but cannot or will not provide security for the weakest. I hope the Democrats at least lose a little sleep over their inability to face the human rights abuses which they are allowing to continue.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culpability

Both Democrats and Republicans certainly fall somewhere on the culpability spectrum for all starving Iraqi children. If only the "Project of the New American Century" had been a vast non-partisan humanitarian organization instead of what it actually turned out to be. "Spreadin' deMOCKracy" indeed! We Americans can no longer sit idly by either. We must stand up to these criminal racketeers and their money-laundering organization machines that fosters these huge crimes against humanity. We must be large & noticeable watch-dog groups of citizens to make sure our Non-Profit laws are being used for their original purposes as charities and community services. We , as active non-couch potatoes , must insure that our charities and community services (be it local , national or international community) are being used for non-scam/non-criminal, non-violent/non-warmongering purposes, and be able to call a duck a duck when we see it, not when its too late.

IMPEACH BUSHCO & RICO PNAC/AIPAC > "OUT" THE ANTI-AMERICAN CABALS !

http://tinyurl.com/22bw6j

http://tinyurl.com/a8uz9

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