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Iraqi children face poverty, violence, exploitation

Iraq's children are the victims of widespread poverty, political dysfunction and sectarian violence.
A boy carries a AK47 rifle at the Chebayesh marsh in Nassiriya, 300 km (185 miles) southeast of Baghdad, February 15, 2013. The Marsh Arabs who had farmed this area for thousands of years, were badly affected by a campaign mounted by the government of Saddam Hussein in the 1990s to destroy their lifestyle. The marshes were drained of water, and hundreds of thousands of Marsh Arabs were forced to flee to cities, where they live in poverty, the locals in this area said. Picture taken February 15.    REUTERS/T

“He asks about his mother and his father and says that he wants to go to school. He still has not learned that his parents are gone, which would inevitably cause him an unhealable open wound.” This is how a grandfather described the situation of his grandson who is in the hospital after having lost his immediate family except for his younger sister in one of the blasts that rocked Baghdad in October 2013.

After more than 10 years of continuous terrorism in Iraq, it is nearly impossible to count the number of children with a similar story. A search on YouTube reveals hundreds of videos of children who have lost their loved ones, screaming in pain and crying out in bitterness as a result of the misery they are living in a country where childhood is desecrated. Terrorist groups in Iraq have not excluded children, as numerous attacks have targeted places where children are likely to be present. This was the case in the attack that targeted an elementary school in one of the villages in northwestern Iraq on Oct. 6. This attack claimed the lives of more than a dozen children, while 44 were injured by the blast caused by two car bombs.

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