Civilians suffer in wars

This video is called Beyond Belief – Afghan Womens’ Hardship and Hunger.

From Maktoob Business in the United Arab Emirates:

Poll shows civilian suffering in war

Jun 23, 2009 at 01:21

A Red Cross survey of eight war-torn countries has found that more than half of the civilians polled were forced to flee their homes – while in Afghanistan and Liberia torture was a common experience.

The opinion poll, released Tuesday, was conducted for the International Committee of the Red Cross among 4,000 people in Afghanistan, Colombia, Congo, Georgia, Haiti, Lebanon, Liberia and the Philippines.

It is part of a campaign to highlight the impact of modern conflicts on civilians.

Nowhere was the sense of direct suffering more acute than in Afghanistan, – which has been gripped by conflict for three decades – and in Liberia, where brutal civil wars ravaged the country between 1989 and 2003.

In both nations, more than 40 percent of those polled said they had been tortured.

An average of 56 percent in the eight countries surveyed said they had been forced to flee their home at some point in time.

That figure rose to nine people in 10 in Liberia; and more than three-quarters of Afghans.

“These figures represent millions of people who are struggling to provide for their childen, who have been forced to flee their villages under threat, or who live in constant fear that someone they care for will be killed, assaulted or disappear,” said ICRC Director of Operations Pierre Kraehenbuehl.

“That’s very disturbing.”

Lost relatives, looting, injury, and imprisonment were commonplace experiences in Afghanistan and Liberia – as well as a sense of humiliation that was shared in nearly equal measure by 51 percent of Haitians.

Despite concerns about their own livelihood, the greatest single fear that emerged from the war victims was that of losing a loved one or a relative: on average, that fear was cited by 38 percent.

Corruption emerged as the biggest single barrier to receiving aid for 59 percent of those polled – rising to more than 80 percent in Colombia, Liberia and the Philippines.

The opinion poll was carried out to mark the 150th anniversary this week of the Battle of Solferino, which inspired the Swiss founding father of the Red Cross, Henry Dunant, to set up the movement to help war victims.

“When you look at Solferino, where only one civilian was reportedly killed, and you compare it with modern day conflicts in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Sri Lanka, Gaza or Somalia, you find that warfare takes a more widespread physical and emotional toll on civilians,” said Kraehenbuehl.

The poll was conducted by the polling firm IPSOS among a representative sample of about 500 people in each of the countries, between February and April 2009 – but sometimes only in major cities because of the dangers involved.

In Afghanistan, the capital Kabul, and some other cities, usually suffered far less from war than the rest of the country. Which may mean that really representative Afghan figures would have been even worse.

The poll had a margin of error of four to five percent.

See also here.

Following a 10-month investigation, a European Union report has found Georgia the aggressor in its 2008 war with Russia, directly refuting claims made not only by the Georgia government, but also by its backers in Washington and the US media: here.

4 thoughts on “Civilians suffer in wars

  1. Afghani Children Suffer From Post-Traumatic Stress

    Children who live in Afghanistan are particularly affected every day by a multitude of war time stressors which increase the likelihood of developing PTSD: trauma, child labor, and family and military violence. On a daily basis they are first-hand witnesses to the bombings, abuse, and the general upheaval of their home life and society as a result of war, including the effects of long-term poverty and familial turmoil.

    The research appears in the Journal of Traumatic Stress and is the first of its kind to address the psychological needs of Afghani children. It is based on clinical interviews with approximately three-hundred Afghan school children. The study is headed by Dr. Claudia Catani of the University of Bielefeld. Catani emphasizes that, “The interplay of these stressors contributes to a higher vulnerability in the children frequently exposed to traumatic experiences.”At least half of the children (one in four boys and one in six girls) who have experienced a traumatic life event in this environment were diagnosed with Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a life incapacitating mental health disorder.

    In addition, the study found that approximately half of the boys and a third of the girls are expected to work to supplement the family’s income, sometimes working heavy labor jobs as carpet weavers for an average of seven hours a day. Dr. Catani and her fellow researchers also found that girls in this situation were more likely to experience family violence (including the witnessing of spousal abuse). For girls, these stressors have a cumulative effect which is damaging not only psychologically but somatically and neurophysiologically.

    Catani and her team found that boys are exposed overall to more traumatic life events, and when developing interventions it is not enough to focus on war experiences. The treatment also needs to incorporate other stressors and circumstances. This includes family disturbances and maltreatment as well as community factors such long-term poverty and child labor. When all factors are taken into account, these interventions can work to provide a support that is both efficient and sustainable.

    Other goals and solutions include better education, immediate mental health interventions and treatment after a violent conflict, and humanitarian assistance for trauma-affected populations in resource-poor countries. The dramatic numbers of PSTD-diagnosed children in Afghanistan make it more urgent than ever to understand risk factors and consequences of decades of violent conflict, and to develop adequate intervention and prevention strategies.

    By Wiley-Blackwell


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