Thursday, July 05, 2007

 

Orphans of Baghdad

The Street Orphans Of Baghdad

Thousand of Street Orphans Live Without Shelter or Aid






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BAGHDAD, May 8, 2007
Thousands of orphans like Fahad roam the streets of Baghdad, selling trinkets and perfumes. The last time Fahad saw his parents, militiamen were taking them to their death. (CBS)


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"There is no future for any Iraqi people. Not just for the orphan babies, for all the Iraqi people. We don’t have any future."

Quammer al-Janni, Red Crescent


(CBS) Orphans like Fatema, selling incense for pennies, aren't hard to find on Baghdad's streets. At 11 years old, dodging cars, she's barely more than a beggar, CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann reports.

"We're orphans," Fatema says.

Why don't they go to school?

"Because we need the money," she says.

Baghdad has thousands of orphans — no one knows the exact number. There are too many for the eight orphanages in Iraq's capital city. Some facilities crowd 10 kids to a small bedroom.

Other than the orphanages, will anyone take these children?

"No," says Quammer al-Janni, who coordinates orphan programs for the Red Crescent, the Arab Red Cross.

The Iraqi government does little to help. In Iraqi culture, orphans are mostly scorned — and seldom adopted.

They're scared. Many of them are angry — and more violent than other kids.

"I think I am going to cry," Quammer says. "Because I have nothing to do for them. I have nothing to say for them."

Adults who work with orphans here are scared for them — and for Iraq. They say, "Don't forget Saddam Hussein was raised as an orphan."

The last time Fahad saw his parents, militiamen were taking them to their death. A Sunni Muslim, he won't play with Shia children.

Another child Strassmann met, Ayaat, is a Shia, who says she can't live with Sunnis.

This is how it begins.

To survive, Mushtaq quit school. He learns on the street, selling perfume and gum to strangers.

In faces like his, Quammer sees Iraq's real worry — its next generation of insurgents and terrorists. That's why she spends six days a week helping orphans; she saves only Saturdays for her own kids.

"There is no future for any Iraqi people. Not just for the orphan babies, for all the Iraqi people," she said. "We don’t have any future."

Ask Fatema about her future. It's simply survival.


© MMVII, CBS Interactive, Inc.

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Comments:
I was in Iraq in 2005 as a combat medic. On one of my missions we noticed a little kid following us for quite a few blocks. I remembered him clearly and he had a worn baseball shirt with the number 56 on it. I finally got the translator to get another kid to tell me why he had been following us for a while. His parents were killed the night before and his only brotehr were in a hospital. He had no relatives and didn't know what he could do.
I gave him my MRE but I knew I couldn't do much more. What's teh kid going to think when he grows up? that his parents were killed in one night, and there were these foregin strangers with weapons walking his streets??? i hope he can remember what little we tried to do for him and not think of us as the cause of all of this. Politics aside, we grow to learn and the truth will always escape us...
 
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