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Every Single Time I Can't Imagine It Getting Any Worse, It Gets So Much Worse I Feel Sick
Iraqi MPs ask government to investigate child-trafficking
BAGHDAD- An Iraqi MP stirred controversy during a Parliament session last week when he asked Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki to investigate the illegal activities of an international organization operating in Iraq which is said to be selling Iraqi children to Israelis to be used as laborers.
Although the government-owned television censored the parliament member’s remarks, the issue was shocking to all parties, the government, the parliament and ordinary people.
In fact it was not a total surprise to the media. The issue came to light a few days ago when a Swedish television channel aired a report featuring a market for selling children in the heart of Baghdad. It also showed a documentary on child sale deals in the street which were conducted in the open and within full knowledge of the authorities. The film examined the case of Zahra’a, a four-year-old girl, who was sold for $US500 in an auction held in the center of the heavily secured Green Area in Baghdad.
The film also showed a number of people in the market speaking in a foreign language. It did not reveal their nationality nor interviewed any of them but they are believed to be Americans and Israelis working for suspicious organizations operating in Iraq. They are allegedly involved in the trafficking of Iraqi children to be sold to Israelis.
Human rights activists have already warned that the number of children in Iraq is decreasing and the government is showing no interest. The Iraqi government has done nothing to protect the children from the spiralling violence in the country because government officials are indulged in other issues such as power sharing, distributing oil revenues and contending for top posts, they said.
Until now, there is no law in Iraq to guarantee the rights of children although the country is a signatory to a number of international charters on child rights. It is also a member of UNICEF and UNESCO.
UNICEF itself said Iraqi children are paying a high price. Two million children in Iraq are facing threats including poor nutrition, lack of education, disease and violence, it said.
Hundreds were killed in violence during 2007, while 1,350 were detained by the authorities, it said in a new report.
Some 25,000 children and their families have had to leave their homes each month to seek shelter in other parts of Iraq
In a report entitled “Little Respite for Iraq’s Children in 2007”, UNICEF said Iraqi children continued to pay too high a price for their country’s turmoil and that this year things had gotten worse.
The report said that about of 25,000 children per month were being displaced from their homes as their families fled violence or intimidation. By the end of the year, 75,000 children had resorted to living in camps or temporary shelters.
The disruption led to extreme hardship for many children and eroded access to education and healthcare, UNICEF said.
Many of the 220,000 displaced children of primary school age had their education affected in a country where around 760,000 children (17%) were already absent from primary school. Only 28% of 17-year-olds sat for their final exams.
UNICEF said children in remote and hard-to-reach areas were frequently cut off from healthcare and that only 20% outside the capital, Baghdad, had working sewerage in their communities. Access to safe water was also a serious issue.
According to a study conducted by an Iraqi NGO, there are more than 100,000 children working in the streets and they are vulnerable to immense dangers threatening their future. Street children have become a familiar phenomenon in Baghdad and other cities.
A study by the Iraqi organization, Child Care and Rehabilitation, said that children are being made to work for long hours and some are used by criminal syndicates for trickery and pick pocketing.. The study found that many of these children were thrown into the streets by their parents who have lost their jobs and earn a living through their children.