GAZA: PTSD among children – FACTS
Around 1.82 million Palestinians live in the Gaza Strip, whose size is 365 km2 (Zagreb – 640 km2). With an annual population growth rate of 2.91%, Gaza is listed as one of the most densely populated places on earth. While 21% of the population lives in deep poverty, 60% of the population is under the age of 19 years. More than 40 years of Israeli military occupation have had a devastating impact on Palestinians in Gaza. Air strikes, artillery shelling, ground invasions other acts of violence have all led to an epidemic of suffering among Gaza’s most vulnerable inhabitants. The most recent studies indicate that the vast majority of Gaza’s children exhibit symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The UN studies shows that 33% of the children develop severe acute PTSD symptoms that need psychological intervention, while 49% of them suffered from moderate level of PTSD symptoms. 40 percent of the children show signs of moderate or severe depression, and a staggering 95 percent exhibit severe anxiety. Meanwhile, 75 percent showed limited or no ability to cope with their trauma. The long-term effects of constant violence and PTSD on such a young population are incalculable. A whole generation is being irretrievably lost to the horrors of large-scale military violence.
SOURCE – UN, UNHCR, UNRWA
OPERATION “IRAQI FREEDOM”
‘The invasion of Iraq was illegal’ – said the then UN Secretary -General Kofi Annan, after United States avoided the UN Security Council and unilaterally went to war against Iraq, on the pretext of alleged Iraqi possession of weapons of mass destruction. Various scientific surveys of Iraqi deaths during 2003-2011 period estimated that between 151,000 and 1,4 million Iraqis died as a result of this conflict. Estimate by Opinion Research Business (ORB), an independent British polling agency, suggests that the total Iraqi violent death toll due to the Iraq War since the US invasion is in excess of 1.2 million. Renowned US “Project Censored” has named the “corporate media blackout” of the number of Iraqi deaths caused by the Iraq war (which it estimates at over one million) as the number-one censored story for 2009. According to UNHCR, around 1 million of Iraqi children became war orphans as a result of US invasion, while over 3.9 million people, or 16 percent of the Iraqi population, have become refugees. According to World Health Organization seventy percent of Iraqi children are suffering from war-trauma related symptoms. No evidence was found to verify the initial claims about weapons of mass distraction.
SOURCE – UN, UNHCR, ORB, Project Censored, BBC
In mid-September 2015, after Hungary closed its border, a huge wave of refugees spilled over to Croatia. Until the end of the same year more than 550,000 desperate refugees used that route trying to escape from the horrors of war or famine. The first few days of rush of refugees to Croatia marked the complete chaos and disorganization. How the government was unaware and unprepared speaks little information that Vesna Pusic, the then First Deputy Prime Minister, in the main evening news program before the first entry of refugees, stated that ‘there is no room for panic, because Croatia expects of most 2000-4000 refugees. Little bit over a 10.000 refugees entered in the next 24 hours, and each following day brought even more desperate and exhausted people. Place on the eastern Croatian borders with Serbia that endured the chaotic first burden of refugees tsunami was Tovarnik. The village on the former Roman road with barely 2,500 inhabitants, devastated and ravaged after the recent Croatian-Serbian war, whose railway station was a desire of tens of thousands of refugees following months. The uncertainty, hunger, lack of sleep and separation from their parents most influenced the exhausted children. Extremely rare trains came on the overcrowded station without any timetable and further information about the destination. It was an additional reason for unrest among the refugees. As the meaning of the Old Slavonic called Tovarnik to the root of ‘Tovar’ (“tovar” = Eng. ‘load’) lists the two main possible meanings – “place where people live” and “burden”. So Tovarnik, as once in Roman times, reconnected east and west, and by pure chance, united the two of its meanings through the fate of these desperate people. However briefly, it was again settled by people, with their heavy burdens, waiting to be ‘loaded’ on the way to their new future. In the year 2015 – 1.006.551 refugees crossed to Europe (97% by sea, 3% by land), 3760 drowned. Every fourth is children under 12. Only from Syria, since the beginning of the conflict, there are more than 4 million refugees (another 5 million IDP), after the US invasions of Iraq 3.9 million people fled country from the beginning of 2003*, and since 2001 in Afghanistan 5.4 million people become refugees*. (* data before ISIS). In 2015 – 1,006,551 refugees crossed to Europe (97% by sea, by land 3%). 3760 of them drowned. Every fourth was child under 12.
SOURCE: UN, UNHCR, IOM (Intl. Organization for Migration)