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The Week in Iraq is a weekly assessment of significant incidents and trends in Iraqi civilian casualties by IBC's news collector and Recent Events editor Lily Hamourtziadou.

The analyses and opinions presented in these commentaries are personal to the author.

Recent weeks

Healing the wounds of the past
  18 Jan 2009

Happy New Year
  11 Jan 2009

The sad numbers
  31 Dec 2008

  21 Dec 2008

The farewell kiss
  14 Dec 2008

Regrets –he’s had a few…
  7 Dec 2008


The Week in Iraq

Death of a child

by Lily Hamourtziadou

2 Nov 2008

Khudaer Muhammad Abdullah, 49, and his wife had already lost 2 sons; 19-year-old Muazzaz was kidnapped and killed last year, while 21-year-old Saad was killed by a suicide bomber last month, at the police academy in Kirkuk.

‘On Sunday he lost his last son, and his 4-year-old daughter is now hospitalized with serious wounds. His last son, Muhammad Khudaer Muhammad, 7, was killed when part of a rocket-propelled grenade exploded on a vacant lot where he was playing soccer with three other children, according to police reports.

Muhammad was killed instantly in the blast. His friend Ahmed Hamid Jelu, 9, lost both legs and died at a hospital shortly afterward. Two other children — Hassan Dhaya, 7, and Muhammad’s sister, Ahlan Khudaer Muhammad — were seriously wounded.

Mr. Abdullah, a shepherd, said that he had just returned from leading his sheep to pasture when Muhammad asked permission to play soccer with some friends in the lot across the road from the family’s home.

About 15 minutes later, around 3 p.m., Mr. Abdullah heard an explosion.

“Their bodies were completely torn apart by the blast,” Mr. Abdullah said. His son, he surmised, must have been sitting on the ground waiting for the ball to be passed to him, because he found Muhammad seated. An official at Kirkuk’s morgue later said that Muhammad’s head had been blown off’ (New York Times, 2 November 2008).

Meanwhile, the US is warning of terrible consequences if the Iraqis don’t sign the security agreement that gives immunity to US soldiers in Iraq. Should the agreement not be signed, Iraq ‘would lose $6.3 billion in aid for construction, security forces and economic activity and another $10 billion a year in foreign military sales’ (McClatchy, 27 October). The US army will no longer ‘protect’ Iraq, 200,000 Iraqis will lose their jobs, and NGOs that provide essential services and support for displaced people will cease their operations.

So no protection, no money, no jobs and no food. Unless they agree to let a foreign army kill their civilians unpunished. A great threat indeed. Makes the years of economic sanctions look like Iraq’s Golden Era.

The threats are not empty but real, grave and to be taken very seriously. Yet those they are threatening have already lost so much. When a family has lost its child, its father or mother, how much more can anyone threaten to take from them? When people have lost members of their family to violence, hunger, disease, how much more can you hurt them? People like Khudaer Muhammad Abdullah and his wife… how much can the threat of unemployment, or the cessation of US protection, affect or frighten them, after having lost 3 children?

Asked who he would like to see winning the US election, Abu Karrar al-Sa’aidi, a real estate broker in Baghdad, replied ‘I hope the winner will be the person who can return what Americans have taken from Iraq’ (Reuters, 2 November).

The most important things cannot be returned. Such as a life taken too soon. A child lost for ever.

This week 109 civilians lost their lives in Iraq. 10 of them were children.