Syrian children suffering ‘toxic stress’: Report

A child looks out from an abandoned petrol station where he and his family now live in this file photo. (AP)
Updated 08 March 2017

Syrian children suffering ‘toxic stress’: Report

BEIRUT: Syrian children show symptoms of “toxic stress” and are attempting self-harm and suicide in response to prolonged exposure to war, according to a report released on Tuesday.
Children do not feel safe at school and are developing speech disorders and incontinence, and some are even losing the capacity to speak, it said. The report from Save the Children comes as the sixth anniversary of the Syrian war approaches and it calls on all sides to prioritize mental health issues before children develop lasting complications they will carry into adulthood.
“After six years of war, we are at a tipping point, after which the impact on children’s formative years and childhood development may be so great that the damage could be permanent and irreversible,” said Marcia Brophy, a mental health adviser for Save the Children in the Middle East. “The risk of a broken generation, lost to trauma and extreme stress, has never been greater.”
Researchers spoke with 450 children, adolescents and adults in seven of Syria’s 14 governorates.
Adults said the main cause of psychological stress is the constant shelling and bombardment that characterize the war.
Schools and hospitals have been regularly targeted, destroying the very institutions that can support traumatized children when they need it most.
According to the report, 80 percent of those interviewed said children have become more aggressive and 71 percent said children increasingly suffer from frequent bedwetting and involuntary urination — “both common symptoms of toxic stress and post-traumatic stress disorder among children.”
The researchers also found that two-thirds of the children had lost a loved one, had their houses bombed or shelled, or suffered war-related injuries.
Save the Children said the survey was the first focusing on the mental health of children still living in Syria.
It said that at least 3 million children are estimated to be living in areas with exposure to high explosive weapons and that at least 3 million youngsters under age 6 know nothing but war.


Israeli court bars ‘racist’ candidates from September poll

Updated 16 min 50 sec ago

Israeli court bars ‘racist’ candidates from September poll

JERUSALEM: Israel’s Supreme Court has barred two members of an extreme-right party many view as racist from running in a September 17 general election.
The court ruled that candidates Benzi Gopstein and Baruch Marzel, of the Jewish Power party could not stand, quoting a law barring “incitement to racism” by candidates, according to a court statement late Sunday.
Jewish Power members are followers of late racist rabbi Meir Kahane, whose Kach movement wanted to chase Arabs from Israel.
The ideology of Kahane, assassinated in New York in 1990, also inspired Baruch Goldstein, who carried out a massacre of 29 Palestinian worshippers in Hebron in 1994.
The court rejected petitions to ban the Jewish Power as a party and upheld the candidacy of West Bank settler Itamar Ben-Gvir, who heads its electoral list.
Ben-Gvir acknowledges having a picture of Goldstein in his living room, but has reportedly said it is because he was a physician who rescued Jews targeted in Palestinian attacks.
Indicted 53 times since his youth, Ben-Gvir boasts of having been cleared in 46 cases. He decided to study law on the recommendation of judges so he could defend himself.
He now represents settlers accused of violence, including those allegedly responsible for an arson attack that killed an 18-month-old Palestinian boy and his parents in 2015 in the West Bank, an incident that drew widespread revulsion.
Jewish Power advocates removing “Israel’s enemies from our land,” a reference to Palestinians and Arab Israelis who carry out attacks.
It also calls for Israel annexing the occupied West Bank, where more than 2.5 million Palestinians live.
Alone it was considered unlikely to garner the 3.25 percent of votes cast necessary to get into parliament.
But a deal mentored by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saw it entering an electoral alliance with two other far-right parties, improving its chances.
The pact drew disgust from many in Israel and among Jewish communities abroad, particularly in the United States.
For Netanyahu, the deal ahead of what is expected to be a close election was pure politics.
He defended it by saying he does not want any right-wing votes to go to waste as he plans his next coalition.