Mental health of children in Iraq damaged by war

The war in Iraq is likely to have a profound effect on the
mental health of the 12 million children in Iraq, an independent
group of experts has warned, writes Katie

New research commissioned by ‘War Child Canada’ reveals that,
even before the outbreak of war, the mental health of Iraqi
children was suffering. Interviews with children in Baghdad and
Basra and questionnaires from school children revealed that the
threat of war was affecting their lives, with the majority
reporting “strong, daily fear”.

The children were worried that they might not live to become
adults, and that something bad would happen to them or their

Many reported sleeping problems and nightmares, as well as
severe concentration problems. Extreme feelings of detachment were
also noted, and almost 40 per cent of  children thought that life
was not worth living most of the time.

The research team claimed that Iraqi children had already been
badly traumatised as a result of 12 years of economic sanctions,
and said the impact of a new war would be

Panos Vostanis, professor of child psychiatry at Leicester
University, who carried out research into the effects of trauma on
the mental health of Palestinian children, predicted that many
expressions of distress would remain well after the war ended and
would be likely to be compounded by other mental health problems
such as depression, fears and anxiety.

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