Alan Pogue took this striking photograph of an injured Iraqi child in March of 2000. He had traveled to Iraq to participate in a Veterans for Peace and Voices in the Wilderness project to rebuild a water treatment plant in Basra. Sanctions had devastated the country, causing the deaths of some 5,000 children each month for 13 years, the majority from water-borne diseases. Approximately 1.5 million Iraqis died as a result of sanctions. The United States and Great Britain used their veto power in the UN Security Council to avert lifting sanctions despite worldwide concern about the massive suffering and death they inflicted on innocent Iraqi civilians. Two UN Humanitarian Coordinators in Iraq, Hans Von Sponeck and Denis Halliday, resigned, calling the sanctions “genocidal.”
In December of 2002, Alan returned to Iraq and found her in the remote southern village of Abu Floos, where she lives with her family. Her name is Asraa’ Amir Mizyad. She was severely injured in a missile attack perpetrated by the US military on the morning of January 25, 1999. She had just finished a test at the Al Najed primary school and was walking home from school when the missile struck. A large piece of shrapnel severed her right arm below the shoulder and she suffered chest and abdominal wounds. A metal fragment remains lodged in her skull, a souvenir of the American Empire; doctors could not remove it for fear of killing her. Asraa was nine years old.
We went to the Middle East in March of 2003 in an attempt to bring Asraa to the United States for medical care and a prosthetic arm. We stayed in Amman and went to the Iraqi embassy each morning in the hope that visas to enter Iraq would be made available. However, the visas did not come through before the invasion began and Asraa was left behind. We returned for her in 2004 with funding assistance from Veterans for Peace.
Asraa’ finally arrived in Houston, Texas, in August 2004. At last she received prosthetic and rehabilitative treatment at Shriners Hospital – more than four years after the American missile strike. We hope that she will be followed by many other children who have been injured by US forces. They should not be left to suffer. We should make amends.
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