Sunday, September 13, 2009

WWB: vicious injuries

What War Brings: vicious, horrific injuries to civilians

All wars and occupations bring injuries, and this post is going to focus on the horrific physical injuries suffered by the civilians caught up in America’s wars and occupations. Of course, we have no earthly idea how many people have been injured and still survived in our wars on Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan. We don’t even know how many people died, much less how many were injured and how badly. We don’t know how many civilians get caught in the crossfire, or how many are injured when we drop a bomb. And that is simply because the corporate media and vast majority of Americans on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan don’t give a shit. They don’t even care enough to make a record or report it. And American people, for the most part, do not care enough to seek out the information.

And even when we do find out, nothing much is done to help the victims, except in rare occasions (and then it is aid groups that help out, not the US military or US government).

Back in 2003, this report came from the Iraq Body Count Project:

The Red Cross reported from Baghdad that during its heaviest fighting the city's hospitals were so overwhelmed by admissions that no one could any longer keep an accurate count, but that one major hospital alone had been admitting the war-wounded at a rate of about 100 patients an hour. And in one of the most heart-rending of statistics, another aid organization reported just a month into the war that a hospital, situated in one of the poorest parts of Baghdad, "had amputated more than 100 limbs of children in that one month."

Since I cannot present any definitive statistics on the nature and the number of injuries, I will present some individual stories. This is just a very small sampling of the total number of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan who have suffered vicious injuries.

Many people did not live to tell of their injuries, but among those that survived, even with limited medical treatment, the injuries are beyond belief.

Here is one story of an Iraqi. Hayder Abdulwahab woke up after a car bombing in Baghdad in the morgue. He had shrapnel all over his body, including in his eyes. He was injured so badly they thought he was dead.

Given up for dead, Iraqi refugee struggles to survive

Paralyzed, blinded, unable to scream, Hayder lay in a jumble of bodies. Knobby bones poked him from underneath, a still-warm arm lay across his side. The smell of rot was overwhelming. "I'm going to die here," he thought. Then he heard the voice of his brother fighting to get inside, followed by the yell of a doctor who saw a pulse thumping in the open wound of his throat.

Moustafa is another Iraqi who was injured by a US bomb that threw him off the roof of his home in Baghdad. The bomb was not directed at him, but the concussion of the bomb did throw him off his roof. He broke his back in the fall, and he is now trying to relearn how to walk.

Moustafa – update

We visited Moustafa at a friend’s home. And the first thing that Moustafa did after greeting everyone, was to show us how he can lift himself out of his wheelchair, using a walker for balance. And how he can stand, balancing himself with almost no support from the walker. He radiated pride and satisfaction and joy. And we were delighted to share in it. It was extraordinary to be with Moustafa, knowing what he has come through.

“Children of Iraq Association Charity”, a UK charity, is working to help Iraqi children. I don’t know if this is a good charity or not (they look good), but they do have pictures of Iraqi children on their website. They show some of the horrific injuries the children received from the war and occupation. I have been posting pictures of Iraqis on my blog Faces of Grief, and I am sure the pictures on the Children of Iraq Association Charity are legitimate. Look at them and weep.

And here are a couple more.

Photo: A man suffering from burns is wheeled into the emergency room of the local hospital following a suicide attack in the northern city of Kirkuk, 255kms from Baghdad May 12, 2009. A suicide bomber in a pick-up truck detonated himself at a police patrol killing six people, three of them police officers and wounding 14 other civilians and police. AFP PHOTO / MARWAN IBRAHIM (Photo credit should read MARWAN IBRAHIM/AFP/Getty Images)

Photo: A wounded boy receives treatment at a hospital after a bomb attack in Baghdad's Kadhimiya district April 24, 2009. In a second day of major bloodshed, two suicide bombers wearing explosive vests blew themselves up at the gates of a Shi'ite Muslim shrine in Baghdad on Friday, killing 60 people, Iraqi police said. REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani (IRAQ CONFLICT)

And this website did a whole series of photos of Iraqi refugees in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Some suffer burns all over their bodies, and the children wonder what future they might find with such disfiguring wounds. Women find their spouses leave them due to the disfiguring wounds.

SUFFERANCE: Iraqi Victims of War

“Enduring hardship for what else shall we do?” (This photo essay is part of an ongoing project I started in July 2008 photographing and documenting the lives of Iraqi refugees in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.) Kidnap, murder, soldier, explosion, army, militia, ambush car; these words are the pattern of vernacular of Iraqi children and their parents in the mayhem of Iraq. Iraqis kidnapped and tortured, or wounded by car bombs, missiles and mortars, often exacerbated by improper medical care and severe infections, bear their wounds of war with determination and a patient shrug; for today in Baghdad, Sadr City, Anbar, Basra, Karbala, Kirkurt, Najaf, Diyala Sulaymaniyah, Qadisiyah, Babil, Dahuk, Arbil, Tam’mim, Salah ad Din; sufferance is the badge of all their tribe. In other words who are you going to complain to when everyone is facing the same situation.

I personally know about two Iraqi girls who suffered horrific injuries due to a US missile strike. Salee and Rusul were playing outside their home in November 2006 when a missile struck them, killing their brother and a neighborhood friend. (Blew them all to pieces would be the correct way of saying it, actually.) Salee had her legs taken off above the knees, Rusul lost her right foot. Both girls had shrapnel over a large part of their bodies. There were brought to the USA by No More Victims for surgery and prosthetics. That is how I got to know them, since they came to Greenville, SC, which is close to my home town.

Like the other Iraqis mentioned above, Salee and Rusul got no compensation from the US government or US military for their injuries.

Iraqis who have disfiguration from vicious injuries do state that they are shunned because of their appearance. Some of that is being addressed by plastic surgery.

Plastic Surgeons Mask Anbar’s Scars

Anbar, a conservative, largely Sunni Arab tribal province in western Iraq, is recovering from years of war between insurgent groups and United States troops. Since the guns were silenced, demand for reconstructive surgery has emerged in Anbar’s two main cities, Fallujah and Ramadi.

Scarred victims of Anbar’s recent violent history say they are shunned because of their appearance, but the province’s plastic surgeons provide a new lease on life. According to a report released in July by Anbar’s health directorate, an estimated 100 people with war-related injuries undergo reconstructive surgery in the province each month. Between 130,000 and 250,000 US dollars is being spent on the procedures in Anbar monthly, the report said. Most of the patients are women.

Walid al-Ani, who has been a plastic surgeon for 12 years, nearly gave up his practice due to lack of demand some years ago. Today, he advertises on the radio and his clinic – in a bullet-pocked building in Fallujah - is teeming with patients. Saad Nasir, a 44-year-old bank employee, recently took his wife to see Ani for skin grafts. In March 2006, she suffered severe burns on her back when the US military dropped flares during clashes with insurgents. One of the flares set their house alight. At a cost of 3,000 dollars, the grafts “are not risky, but they are expensive”, Nasir said.

Disfigurements and deformities are also present in high numbers in Iraq from birth defects. There are no records from the years under Saddam’s rule to compare to current reports, but all medical personnel claim that the number of babies with serious birth defects has gone up significantly in the last few years. This claim is impossible to verify or dispute. The local people are calling for an independent investigation.

Iraq’s City of Deformed Babies

An Iraqi doctor has told Sky News the number of babies born with deformities in the heavily-bombed area of Fallujah is still on the increase. …. Concerns were that the rise in deformities may have been linked to the use of chemical weapons by US forces. We recently returned to find out the current situation and what has happened to some of the children we featured.

In May last year we told the story of a three-year-old girl called Fatima Ahmed who was born with two heads. When we filmed her she seemed like a listless bundle - she lay there barely able to breathe and unable to move. Even now and having seen the pictures many times since I still feel shocked and saddened when I look at her. But the prognosis for Fatima never looked good and, as feared, she never made it to her fourth birthday.

And then there is AFGHANISTAN.

RAWA (Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan) have complied some photos of injured civilians that clearly shows the horrific injuries.

Innocent civilians the main victims of the US/NATO so-called “war on terror” in Afghanistan

And here is a story of a seven year old girl who lost her arm in a bombing by US forces. Her name is Guljumma. She lives in a refugee camp, since her home was destroyed last year in the bombing.

A little girl in Kabul

Guljumma talked about what happened one morning last year when she was sleeping at home in southern Afghanistan's Helmand Valley. At about 5 AM, bombs exploded. Some people in her family died. She lost an arm. With a soft, matter-of-fact voice, Guljumma described those events. Her father, Wakil Tawos Khan, sat next to her.

…… The destructiveness of this war is reality for Guljumma and her father. And for hundreds of families at Helmand Refugee Camp District 5. And, in fact, for millions of Afghan people. The violence of this war - military, economic and social - keeps destroying the future. Every day and night.

Not a damn thing has been done to help her. Her photo is above.

Photo: Guljumma, seven years old, with her father Wakil Tawos Khan, at the Helmand Refugee Camp District 5 in Kabul on August 31, 2009. Last year, an air attack by the US military struck their home in Afghanistan's Helmand Province. She lost an arm in the bombing. (Photo copyright Reese Erlich 2009)

I will be writing to Obama, my two Senators, and my Representative about this child, just like I have written about countless others. I send 100 photos a year to those four clowns, and have been for years. Prior to Obama, I sent them to Bush. Same address, same results. By the way, I know I send 100 a year because in early January, I buy a roll of 100 postcard stamps. The photos go on the postcards, and then are covered with clear tape. Sometimes, I send more than 100 a year.

At least I know I am speaking out on these atrocities done in my name with my tax dollars.

And, of course, these horrific, vicious injuries are still occurring on a regular basis. McChrystal went to talk to a ten year old boy in the hospital last week. The child had been badly burned by a NATO air strike. Supposedly, the US is against this stuff now. I say the proof will be in the pudding.

And of course this is happening in Pakistan too, from US drone bombings. We just don’t have any information, beyond the fact that the number of dead and injured keeps going up.

If you support the continued occupation of Iraq or Afghanistan, or the bombing of Pakistan, then you support WHAT WAR BRINGS: vicious, horrific injuries to civilians.

Iraqi war suffering

No comments: