Eyeless in Gaza, cerebral palsied in Syria, autistic in Iraq - Editorial comment
Continuing conflict in the Middle East has created a conveyor belt carrying children relentlessly towards disease, despair, displacement, disability and death. Some of these children will already have a disability before any particular traumatising event visited on their family, neighbourhood or city.
When I read of the latest bombing raid on a civilian area, a missile attack on shops and houses or an ethnic cleansing raid on some sector of a community, I try to imagine how it would impact on a child who cannot see what is happening, cannot hear or understand what people are saying and cannot run away from the horror.
I do not take comfort from any delusion that these children are blessed by unawareness and ignorance (any more than I have ever been persuaded that all of 'them' like music). Rather than fooling myself they are in some way cushioned from reality, I believe very few disabled children are immune to the confusion, fear and pain around them.
Their plight is made worse by lacking the abilities that might help them keep themselves safe. In war zones disability means increased mental trauma and increased physical vulnerability for children.
When I hear of some attack that has killed ten, twenty or numberless children, I know that we can multiply that figure several times to estimate how many children after the attack were left burned, limbless, brain damaged, blind, deaf and orphaned – but alive.
Those of us who work with disabled children in wealthier and more stable countries must in some way take account of the vast numbers of disabled and traumatised children in the Middle East – children who are disabled now and those children who soon will be.
Every disabled child matters. Every child in the Middle East who is burned, blinded, deafened or brain damaged in areas of conflict ought to matter to all of us.
Peter Limbrick, August, 2014.
'Eyeless in Gaza' is the title of a novel by Aldous Huxley published in 1936 -http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/261004.Eyeless_in_Gaza
England has an organisation called 'Every Disabled Child Matters' but it would and should be more accurately named 'Every Disabled Child in England Matters'. http://www.edcm.org.uk/latest-news/2014/june-2014/queens-speech-announces-tax-free-childcare-bill