|A man brings an injured child to a health centre in Sadr City during the violence in April.|
By Elizabeth Kiem
NEW YORK, USA, 20 June 2008 – Forty days of recent intense violence took a toll on close to 1 million children in Baghdad’s Sadr City, which is home to 2.5 million Iraqis. During April and May, the streets of the sprawling neighbourhood turned into a battlefield – trapping children in their homes without access to water, school or play areas.
Even more seriously, the violence affected access to health care. With power and water in short supply and many medical professionals unable to get to work, two major hospitals were closed, as were many local health centres, leaving many residents with only sporadic access to health care.
During the conflict, UNICEF supplied hospitals with clean water and trauma kits to treat 6,000 injured people. Although there are no confirmed totals of casualties, it is estimated that hundreds were killed and thousands more were wounded.
Healing the scars
With violence currently abated, UNICEF is now focused on helping to restore daily routines and heal the emotional scars of Sadr City’s children. Water-tankering operations have resumed and efforts towards creating child-friendly spaces have been made a priority.
UNICEF Iraq is also turning its attention to women and children nearby, who may soon suffer the effects of violence.
“Now we are looking to deliver the same kind of support to Amarah, a city further south where another major military operation has just started,” said UNICEF Iraq Chief of Communication Claire Hajaj. “Sadr's children know better than anyone else what kids in Amarah could face in the days or weeks to come."