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Children in Iraq still suffering psychologically from war trauma

Bursting into tears, Jasim came forward and embraced his six-year-old son Omer who was shivering and crying excessively with fear "they will take me and kill me," as he had already seen some heavily armed soldiers walking towards them in the volatile province of Diyala.

"My poor son is screaming, completely lost in hysteria as soon as he sees Americans or Iraqi troops," said Jasim who declined to give his full name for security reasons.

Jasim explained the cause of his son's psychological malady that appeared nearly two years ago when Omer saw an insurgent was killed and two others detained by a joint dismounted patrol of U.S. and Iraqi troops during clashes near their house in the provincial capital city of Baquba, some 65 km northeast of Baghdad.

"The bloody fighting had affected severely the psychology of my son who became so scared as soon as he sees armed soldiers," Jasim said with tears in his eyes.

Asked about the roles of psychiatrists in his city in treating his son, Jasim replied hopelessly that he has frequently taken his son to them but his attempts went in vain.

In the past six years, Iraqi children are suffering severely from relentless bloodshed, especially from the fear of being killed or kidnapped.

Um Kholood said that her 7-year-old daughter Kholood had suffered great pain and discomfort since a year and a half ago as a witness of his father being killed by militants.

"My daughter saw veiled armed people killing her father in front of her eyes while she was with him in his car in an area outside Baquba," Um Kholood broke into uncontrollable sobs.

"My daughter's psychology has improved after the incident of her father but it just relapsed when she saw veiled security members in checkpoints or streets," Um Kholood said.

The Iraq war and the following violence had affected millions of children. Lots of Iraqi children have been killed and the lucky survivals are found to be suffering from serious stress. The negative affect of violence on Iraqi children is pervasive and will alter their lives in unimaginable and horrible ways for years.

Some psychological doctors warned that the bloody war and sectarian killings will see children in Iraq growing up either deeply scarred or habituated to violence, which will severely damage their growth.

Six-year-old Khalil Muhiee have the same miserable story with Kholood.

Hiding in a chickens' coop, he saw a group of militants stormed his house in southwest Baquba two years ago and killed his father who was a member of local security forces. "After the militants fled the house, Muhiee got out the coop and saw his father beheaded, lying on the floor stained with his blood, " said Kamal Abdul Rahman, Muhiee's uncle.

Rahman revealed that since that day his nephew has always carried a fake plastic Kalashnikov and said "I will kill the murderers of my father and behead all of them." Khaldoon Qasim, a psychological researcher in Baquba, told Xinhua that a wide slice of children in Diyala suffer deeply from violence in the war-torn country as shootings and bombings have become a part of their daily life. "Horrible images of torn dead bodies scattered in streets and the scenes of their fathers or relatives being killed in front of their eyes will remain firm in the children's minds for many years and will leave negative psychological stamps in their future behaviors," Qasim said.

"They may keep the pattern of violence and hatred going on as they enter adulthood," he added.

Mrs. Nahid Aws, who works as a teacher in a kindergarten in the city of Baquba, said that some children behave cruelly and strangely with their classmates. "I saw a boy in the class carrying a plastic dagger and threatening by waving it towards his classmates," she said.

"Then, I found out that the child is an orphan who has not only seen his father killed by militants but also seen the dead body of his father lying in front of his house for four days. Nobody dared to move it and transfer it to a morgue because the armed groups at that time prevented people from moving the dead bodies killed by them," Aws said. "Such incidents have negative impacts on the child's psychological mood and behavior," Aws said dejectedly, adding that the local psychiatry service for children is very "underdeveloped".

BAQUBA, Iraq, (Xinhua)



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