Um Retaj Ali Abed, Iraq “I’ve decided not to have any more children”
© Ayat El Dewary/IRIN
ABU DHABI, 29 Jan 2007 (IRIN) – “My family is from Baghdad where we have been living for a very long time. My daughter Retaj is four years old and has been diagnosed with Ichthyosis [a dermatological condition caused by genetic abnormalities] since birth. Her outer skin is dry and exfoliates like a fish and then after it exfoliates, her skin sticks out of her body and swells.
“Since I found out about her disease, I have never left her. I have always tried to find treatment for her. Doctors in Iraq don’t understand what it is. Because there is no treatment, she gets worse by the day. The disease took over her face and her body.
“From her birth until today, I’ve only been using Petroleum Jelly. It eases her symptoms somewhat but it is not the solution. In Baghdad, I can’t leave my house because of the violence. I can’t go and see a doctor. I can’t even go to a nearby clinic.
“Sometimes, I can’t even go outside to buy Petroleum Jelly, which is Retaj’s only means of getting relief. I have left her without any treatment or Petroleum Jelly for seven months straight before because we were not able to leave our homes.
”No one wants to have children anymore because they don’t want the children to have to suffer from untreatable diseases caused by all the wars and their effects.”
“The worst thing in Iraq now is that the air is highly polluted. I can’t take her outside at all now. I believe that the weapons that have been used by US troops have affected the weather immensely. These weapons have affected the weather and the weather has affected our children.
“Breathing in Iraq is very difficult. You always smell burning from the fighting and from explosions. This intensifies the air pollution and affects the most vulnerable, our children.
“I have had enough. I am continually stressed and am on the brink of a nervous breakdown because of what is happening to my daughter and because of everything that is happening in Iraq – it is a 24-hour war zone.
“Ever since I gave birth to Retaj, I decided not to have any more children. All the newly born generation has bared the effects of this war. It is unfair. I am not the only mother who feels this way. No one wants to have children anymore because they don’t want the children to have to suffer from untreatable diseases caused by all the wars and their effects.”
Read it here.