Friday, June 22, 2007
Visiting neglected orphans in Baghdad
I tap 14-year-old Saddam on the leg.
He doesn’t move, he doesn’t even blink, no reaction at all. Saddam just sits on his bed.
Saddam is one of 24 disabled children that U.S. soldiers saved from a Baghdad orphanage. The children were neglected and abused. Some of them were forced to lie on the floor with no clothes on, others were simply tied to bedposts.
Now they are recovering at a different branch of the same orphanage and all of Baghdad is asking how could this happen?
One staff member tries to explain, that the orphanage was understaffed, that they had no electricity, and that they had to tie the mentally disabled children to a bed post to keep them from moving around and hurting themselves.
All this may be true. Simply existing in Baghdad is dangerous. Working here and trying to run an orphanage is a massive challenge, especially with insufficient funding and staffing.
But the fact is that these children were malnourished, some of them too weak to even move and lift their heads as U.S. troops raided the house to save them. Sure these children are difficult to deal with. They scream, they cry and moan. But even under the worst circumstances there can never be a justification for tying children to bedposts and denying them food, water and clothing.
As I talk to the staff member, little Saddam simply topples over and falls into his bed. He's just lying on the bed, just looking at the ceiling. My producer Mohammed whispers in my ear: "My God I feel so sorry for them."
From CNN Correspondent Frederik Pleitgen in Baghdad
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