The Guardian newspaper (
It is a growing problem in
According to Colonel Firaz Abdallah, part of the investigation department of the Iraqi police, gangs use intermediaries who pretend to be working for non-governmental organisations. During negotiations with the families, members of the trafficking gangs prepare the paperwork: birth certificates, change of names and the addition of the child to the passport of the intermediary or any other person who is paid to take the child outside, usually to
Syriaand Jordanand from there, to Europe or other Middle Eastcountries.
"The corruption in many departments of the government makes our job complicated [because] when those children come to the airport or the border, everything looks correct and it is hard for us to keep them inside the country without significant evidence that the child is being trafficked," Abdallah said.
"A couple of weeks ago we caught a couple with a six-month-old baby leaving by car from the Iraqi border to
. One of our police officers found the age difference between the couple strange and asked our office to check. After arresting them we found out that the girl was sold by her parents and was going to be taken to Jordan Amman, then after that, to where a family had already paid for the baby." Ireland
They prefer babies, since that is what most adoptive parents want. Unfortunately, some of the children are not being adopted by loving families, but instead are sold to pedophiles.
This is not the only problem facing Iraqi children. About 20% of them are not attending school, per this report from last August. This was estimated by the United Nations and aid organizations. Girls and children in rural areas are more affected than others, but there are plenty of boys who now “work for a living” at a very young age instead of attending school. (I have heard higher figures, but I don't have a link.)
Children begging for money or selling cold sodas from the side of the road are everywhere in
, even during school hours. Baghdad
……The biggest reason that Iraqi children stay home from school is money. A public education is free in
, but a lot of families are too poor to afford backpacks, notebooks and proper school clothes. The cost of living has risen dramatically across the country in recent years and the unemployment rate is around 50 percent. Iraq
"I can't buy milk for them, so how can I buy schoolbooks?" asked Abeer Abdulrahman, a 36-year-old unemployed widow and mother of five. "I want to give them more, but tell me how?" Two of Abdulrahman's children are old enough for school, 7-year-old Nora and 9-year-old Omar, but neither has ever gone. They spend their days begging on the streets with their mother.
Many children are in such a desperate struggle for survival, that attending school is just not a priority.
Instead of going to school, 7-year-old Shahad Tahseen and her 6-year-old brother, Nibras, sit in their grandmother's dirty one-room flat in central
. They came here from a nearby neighborhood in 2006 after their parents were shot and killed. Baghdad
"We sold everything we have just to keep paying the rent," said their grandmother, 63-year-old Halema Mohammed Faraj. "We have no electricity, no water, no clean clothes.
and writing are not on our minds." Reading
A shortage of schools and teachers compounds the problem. Hundreds of educators have been assassinated and many more have fled
And, of course, some children are beyond worrying about school or human trafficking. Aswat Al-Iraq news agency reports that 500 Iraqi children were killed in 2008. (And 2008 was a relatively non-violent year in
“The situation of Iraqi children is deteriorating, despite considerable government efforts in this regard,” a ministry statement received by Aswat al-Iraq news agency quoted Human Rights Minister Wijdan Salim as saying.
He also called on state institutions and ministries to put more effort into assisting Iraqi children.
And Al Jazeera has an excellent series of reports on the walls, and living conditions, of
Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, a Baghdad-born award-winning photographer and journalist, returns to the streets of a
now divided by security walls separating Sunni and Shia. Ghaith's ability to move around the city despite the dangers, gives us a unique insight into this Baghdad and to a story so far untold. Baghdad
In the second video, one orphan blames
No More Victims brings injured Iraqi children to the
May God forgive us.