Will you partner with us? We can never make Iraq whole again. We can never take away the bombs that were dropped or heal the scars left by our actions in Iraq, but we can pay reparations to this little boy and his family.
The Islah Reparations Project sent a small team back into Iraq this month to assess life on the ground for Iraqis and to determine the most critical unmet needs; the team found many. Following a meeting with a respected cardiologist, one case stood out as the most urgent, a young boy in need of heart surgery. The Islah team traveled into Kirkuk to meet the child and his family. The child is at risk of further violence because of his name: thus he’s referred to here as Azraq.
Our team entered a cinder block construction site where Azraq’s large family currently resides. With one UN camp in the area well over capacity serving 18,000 families, more than 10,000 families have been forced to seek shelter wherever they can. Azraq sat on the floor propped up by a cushion, uncomfortable yet remarkably poised. At age four he can’t run around and play like other children his age, stand comfortably, or even breathe at times; necessitating repeat emergency visits to the hospital to be placed on oxygen.
Azraq suffers from a Cyanotic Congenital Birth Defect. (1) He is one of over 200 cases of congenital heart defects his cardiologist receives per month from Fallujah. Research conducted to date marks a rapid increase in congenital birth defects since 2004 caused by chemicals used in U.S. weapons.
According to investigative journalist Dahr Jamail, “We are seeing a rate of congenital malformations in the city of Fallujah that has surpassed even that in the aftermath in the wake of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki — that nuclear bombs were dropped on at the end of World War II…The amount of congenital malformations in Fallujah is 14 times greater than the same rate measured in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan in the aftermath of the nuclear bombings…because of the amount of depleted uranium used by the U.S. military during both of their brutal attacks on the city of 2004, as well as other toxic munitions like white phosphorus, among other things.” (2) These chemicals have now seeped into the ground, the drinking water, and the very bodies of those from the area.
Pain, breathlessness, and endless doctors appointments have punctuated Azraq’s short life.
Azraq should be running around and laughing with other little boys right now. Instead, Azraq is clinging to life. He needs emergency cardiac surgery or he will die. His oxygen level is currently 40%. A healthy rate is around 98%. If he does not receive surgery immediately his oxygen level will continue to drop causing irreversible brain damage and death (one month ago his level was 45% and last year it was 60%.)
The Islah Reparations Project was started by Americans who feel that they were/are complicit in war, occupation, and displacement and who want to take responsibility for harm committed in their name. ISLAH offers people of conscience an opportunity to put into action the words we speak and the goodwill we feel when we think about our position in the global order and the violence wrought to sustain that position.
Our goal is to raise money for Azraq to receive emergency life- saving medical treatment. Azraq needs to leave Iraq to secure affordable expert care, which can only be done in India, Turkey, or the U.S. We have chosen to send him to India where his treating physician has experience with the surgeon and hospital and where it is substantially less expensive.
His treatment and plain ticket will cost approximately $10,000. We’ve already raised $5,000 to put toward Azraq’s treatment. Will you partner with us? We can never make Iraq whole again. We can never take away the bombs that were dropped or heal the scars left by our actions in Iraq, but we can pay reparations to this little boy and his family.