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Number of Iraqi orphans, widows rising with conflict

Recent military operations in Iraq against the Islamic State have led to a spike in the number of orphans and widows.
Orphan boys share earphones as they listen to music in their room in the Safe House orphanage in Baghdad's Sadr City February 11, 2009. As violence finally fades and U.S. troops prepare to withdraw, sociologists and health experts say the children's reactions to such trauma could threaten Iraq's fragile calm just as it needs stability to rebuild. Picture taken February 11, 2009. To match feature IRAQ-ORPHANS/    REUTERS/May Naji (IRAQ) - RTXC8UP
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Naima Ibrahim, 36, lost her husband during the government's bombing of Fallujah in May. She had intended to flee the city with her husband and children after the city fell to militants belonging to the Islamic State (IS) and some tribal groups, but her husband died in the shelling while out buying food. His death forced her to remain in Fallujah. She and her children now live on the money provided by her brothers and neighbors in addition to aid from humanitarian organizations in Anbar province.

Ali al-Hayali, a member of the Al-Khair Foundation, which operates out of Anbar, took it upon himself to help cases similar to Ibrahim’s. He estimates that about 400 children have been orphaned in the province since the start of the government's military operations against the armed groups in December of last year. Hayali’s association, along with a group of other civil and humanitarian organizations, is trying to assess the extent of the destruction that befell Fallujah. The incessant shelling and blocking of roads between the province's cities has made it difficult to compile accurate statistics on the number of orphans.

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