Born under Daesh, sick Iraqi children left undocumented, untreated

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Salima, a 36-year-old mother of four living in the Laylan 2 displacement camp, sits with her children in their tent at the camp, southeast of Kirkuk in northern Iraq on May 9, 2019. No documents? No doctor. (AFP/Ahmad Al-Rubaye)
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Alaa Hamza, a 28-year-old mother living in the Laylan 2 displacement camp, sits with her son Methaq, who suffers from autism and epilepsy, in their rented home in Hawija, 45 kilometres west of Kirkuk in northern Iraq on May 9, 2019. No documents? No doctor. (AFP/Ahmad Al-Rubaye)
Updated 16 May 2019
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Born under Daesh, sick Iraqi children left undocumented, untreated

  • To leave Laylan 2 even briefly, displaced families need to present IDs to the federal police at the entrance and sometimes even get a sponsor to vouch for them
  • Among them are 45,000 children living in camps who were born under Daesh and are therefore lacking state-issued legal documents

LAYLAN, Iraq: No documents? No doctor. Without state-issued IDs, Iraqi mothers struggle to have children born under the now-defeated Daesh treated for conditions ranging from asthma to epilepsy.
“It’s unjust,” said Salima, a 36-year-old mother of four living in the Laylan 2 displacement camp in northern Iraq.
Three of her children were born under Daesh rule and cannot go to school or leave the camp because they lack state-issued identity papers — including Abdulkarim, who was struggling to nap in her lap on a muggy afternoon.
The toddler’s breathing was strained, his tiny chest heaving. The asthma, Salima said, was getting worse.
“There’s a clinic in the camp but it’s no good. They refer us to hospitals but the camp security won’t let us go,” she said, stroking his head.
To leave Laylan 2 even briefly, displaced families need to present IDs to the federal police at the entrance and sometimes even get a sponsor to vouch for them.
Salima said she tried numerous times to take Abdulkarim to a specialist in nearby Kirkuk, but was not allowed to leave.
And trying to have IDs issued for her three stateless children has proved almost impossible, as both parents’ papers need to be submitted.
Her husband was an Daesh member killed in fighting, which means Salima’s own papers have been confiscated by camp security.
“I’ve been trying to get our papers issued for seven months and haven’t been able to, because we’re ‘Daesh’ families,” she told AFP.
“This affects my children in every way — from a security perspective, economically, health-wise, education.”
Iraq declared victory over Daesh in late 2017, but the extremists’ three-year reign over swathes of the country planted a destructive and long-lasting legacy.
Much of Iraq remains in ruins, with 1.6 million people still displaced.
Among them are 45,000 children living in camps who were born under Daesh and are therefore lacking state-issued legal documents, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) recently found.
These children cannot register for school or access steady health care, and may not be able to marry or own property, the NRC said.
The effects on health care are not uniform nationwide, and appeared to vary depending on the checkpoint or facility.
Laylan 2 seemed to have the toughest restrictions, according to camp representative Hussein Habd, 53.
“Three-fourths of the families in the camp don’t have IDs and cannot exit. Even if they’re sick, if they have cancer or skin diseases, they’re barred from leaving,” he told AFP.
At a checkpoint a few kilometers (miles) away, a member of the security forces said orders allowed them to let medical cases through, even without paperwork.
Around Hawija, 80 kilometers (50 miles) to the west, the NRC found infants without papers were denied vaccinations, reportedly causing an emergence of scabies, measles and other diseases.
And further north in Mosul, Daesh’s onetime Iraqi capital, women without paperwork were not allowed to give birth in hospitals, according to the NRC, which in turn impacted newborns’ access to state-issued birth certificates.
The NRC warned that could condemn children to “life on the margins.”
“If this issue is not addressed immediately, it could spiral. This issue did not end with the conflict against Daesh,” said NRC spokeswoman Alexandra Saieh.
The lack of documentation has also impeded families’ ability to register for state welfare programs.
That restriction has been devastating for five-year-old Methaq.
“My son has epilepsy, autism, and no ID,” his mother Alaa Hamza told AFP in a shabby home they rent in Hawija.
Born less than a week after Daesh overran their hometown in 2014, Methaq was never issued a birth certificate.
He now suffers from seizures and mood swings. But sustained care seems a long way off.
Hamza splayed out the contents of a plastic bag on the torn carpet in their living room — medical prescriptions, brain scans, and other tests dating back to 2017.
“We went to four different doctors, every time they take money: $250 in Kirkuk for an EEG, then another $150 for more tests,” she said, which she paid for through donations.
“Our financial situation is dire, and we need to get him an ID so he can benefit from state health care,” she said.
But she can’t even afford that.
“If I want to get him one, it will cost me between 25,000 and 30,000 IQD (around $25). We don’t have it,” she said.
Methaq currently takes a nightly pill to ease his seizures, donated by Doctors Without Borders. His mother said he needs more intensive help.
“He’s five and doesn’t speak yet. I’m worried for his future,” she said.


Beirut praises ‘progress’ on maritime border dispute

Updated 21 May 2019
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Beirut praises ‘progress’ on maritime border dispute

  • Israel and Lebanon both claim ownership of an 860-square-kilometer area of the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Lebanon insists that the area lies within its economic zone and refuses to give up a single part of it

BEIRUT: Lebanon has hinted that progress is being made in efforts to resolve its maritime border dispute with Israel following the return of a US mediator from talks with Israeli officials.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield returned to Lebanon following talks in Israel where he outlined Lebanese demands regarding the disputed area and the mechanism to reach a settlement.

The US mediator has signaled a new push to resolve the dispute after meetings with both Lebanese and Israeli officials.

Israel and Lebanon both claim ownership of an 860-square-kilometer area of the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon hopes to begin offshore oil and gas production in the offshore Block 9 as it grapples with an economic crisis.

A source close to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who met with Satterfield on Monday after his return to Lebanon, told Arab News that “there is progress in the efforts, but the discussion is not yet over.” He did not provide further details.

Sources close to the Lebanese presidency confirmed that Lebanon is counting on the US to help solve the demarcation dispute and would like to accelerate the process to allow exploration for oil and gas to begin in the disputed area.

Companies that will handle the exploration require stability in the area before they start working, the sources said.

Previous efforts by Satterfield to end the dispute failed in 2012 and again last year after Lebanon rejected a proposal by US diplomat Frederick Hoff that offered 65 percent of the disputed area to Lebanon and 35 percent to Israel. Lebanon insisted that the area lies within its economic zone and refused to give up a single part of it.

Satterfield has acknowledged Lebanon’s ownership of around 500 sq km of the disputed 850 sq km area.

Lebanon renewed its commitment to a mechanism for setting the negotiations in motion, including the formation of a tripartite committee with representatives of Lebanon, Israel and the UN, in addition to the participation of the US mediator. Beirut also repeated its refusal to negotiate directly with Israel.

Two months ago, Lebanon launched a marine environmental survey in blocks 4 and 9 in Lebanese waters to allow a consortium of French, Italian and Russian companies to begin oil and gas exploration in the area.