No Child Left Alive

Harkavy

Iraqi children who haven't been blown up or burned alive by car bombs may not be the lucky ones. Millions — yes, millions — of Iraqi kids have fled their homes, and many of those youngsters are now parentless.

Those who do manage to avoid "incorporeity" and grow up have a good chance at becoming terrorists — if they can only maintain their sanity.

The good news is that practically all of the hundreds of corpses routinely fished out of the Tigris River downstream from Baghdad are those of young men, not children.

For the bad news, Monday's report from Baghdead by IRIN, the U.N.'s news service, noted:

"Iraq's conflict is taking an immense and unnoticed psychological toll on children and youth that will have long-term consequences," said Bilal Youssif Hamid, a Baghdad-based child psychiatrist.

"The lack of resources means the social impact will be very bad and the coming generations, especially this one, will be aggressive," Hamid added.

According to UNICEF, half of Iraq's four million people who have fled their homes since 2003 are children. Many were killed inside their schools or playgrounds and gangs routinely kidnap children for ransom.

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Yes, millions of kids.

It's terrible that nearly 4,000 Americans have died because of the unjustified invasion of Iraq. Aside from the publicized rape of a 14-year-old girl by U.S. soldiers and the murders of her and her family, here's some of what is happening to Iraqi kids:

Twenty starving, mentally handicapped boys were discovered naked and tied to their beds in a Baghdad orphanage last month. Food was in the next room, along with the people who were supposed to take care of the boys.

Mentally handicapped boys who aren't tied to their beds are sometimes used as decoys by rebels during terror attacks. Says one: "They fight people who are occupying Iraq and they said that if I do my work well, God will protect me and make me be a healthy boy."

Thousands of homeless children throughout Iraq survive by begging, stealing, or scavenging in garbage for food.

The number of orphans is steadily rising, and many of them are now illegally working. "I have no choice," says 12-year-old Iyad Abdel-Salim. "Life in Iraq has turned into hell. It is dangerous to work in the streets. Twice men tried to rape me. God protected me and I was saved, but maybe one day I will be abused."

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