Friday, 17 August 2007 18:30
Hussein Al-alak, The Iraq Solidarity Campaign
On Friday the 3rd August, The Guardian published a report which said "that 5.2 percent of British soldiers deployed for over 13 months in Iraq, suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder compared to only three percent of those who served less than five months."
The study found that nearly a quarter of troops deployed for longer than 13 months in Iraq, had severe alcohol problems. Alcohol problems were less severe among those who served less than five months.
According to Combat Stress, the British military charity which is dedicated to helping soldiers suffering psychological problems, "the seemingly indefinite struggle in Iraq has created the greatest crisis of morale among British troops for decades."
Another study revealed that US troops returning from Iraq, have the highest rate of psychological problems compared to troops returning from other trouble spots.
One third of US troops returning from Iraq have needed at least one mental health consultation and one in five has been diagnosed with combat-induced psychological problems.
The Observer recently described an "exhausted and worn out" army, in the article "Fatigue cripples US army in Iraq" by Peter Beaumont.
Beaumont describes "young soldiers washed up like driftwood at Baghdad's international airport, waiting to go on leave or returning to their units, sleeping on their body armour on floors and in the dust."
The Association of Psychologists of Iraq, warned the Multi National Forces in 2005, how the violence in Iraq has led to a growth of mental illness among children and has produced a "fear of guns, bullets and death".
The Association also warned of other "fear" induced impediments, which are leaving children unable to attend school, form friendships etc, having witnessed gunmen "shooting my friends" or being too terrified of the threat of "kidnapping" and then sold into the sex trade.
Spokesman Mohammed Abdul for the Ministry of Education, told IRIN News (15/8/2007) that at least 125 children had been killed and 107 injured since 2005 in attacks on schools. These numbers do not include children killed or injured on their way to or from school.
Dr Fuaad Azziz, a psychologist in Baghdad, said "Children have become prisoners", as a consequence of violence but has also warned that keeping them inside could seriously affect their development. "Children need to move, read, learn and play but today in Iraq such normal things might lead to death".
The violence has also begun to take its toll on how women in Iraq give birth, with media reports claiming that women are forced to deliver at home as a consequence of gun battles on the streets and suicide bombings, along with the fear of going into hospital.
According to the Iraq League, on August the 10th 2005, an eight-month pregnant Iraqi woman "fell victim to the indiscriminate shooting by the American forces in Mosul", where "she was shot several times in the stomach."
"Instead of rushing to help her as she fell into a pool of blood, they simply walked away," and it was "down to the family of the shot woman to pick her up and rush her to the nearest hospital."
Islam Online reported in December 2006, how death squads from Sadr City were financially "rewarding" medics, for giving over information relating to the "ethnicity" of patients, that "if you have those (Sunni) patients in the future just tell me and I will give you $300, just for that information."
One doctor recalled "a more fearful incident, when three militiamen walked into the hospital and, unchallenged by the security guards, demanded one of his patients by name."
"The family of another patient hid him and refused to hand him over. But the following day army members came and took him away, and said they were moving him to another hospital
Since then we havent heard anything from him."
"I found that many patients were dying with no cause.Most of them were well and ready to walk out of the hospital. Instead they left in wooden boxes," explained one doctor, whilst also claiming that other patients were being "murdered in their beds" and medical records were either being lost or altered.
A commentator recently posted a message, on one prominent Iraqi website and stated that, "If people are deluded enough to think that the situation with Post Traumatic Stress on both sides is bad now, then lets give it another ten, twenty and thirty years
Lets wait until children grow up and people grow old
Some will develop dementia, then lets watch as the "dead" return to haunt us all!"