Politicians calling for more support for the thousands of children orphaned by the conflict.
By Hazim al-Shara' in Baghdad (ICR No. 244, 25-Jan-08)
Five-year-old Layla Mohammad clings to one memory: her mother combing Layla's hair, styling it like the popular Lebanese singer, Nancy.
A year and a half ago, a bomb ripped through a market in Sadr City in Baghdad, killing Layla's mother, father and two-year-old brother.
"After her parents died, Layla became afraid of markets and crowded places. She thinks that someone will blow himself up," said her grandmother Bardia Hassun.
Hassun said her late son was the breadwinner of the family, supporting four of his sisters and his mother in addition to his wife and children. Layla and her grandmother are now reduced to begging, the latter concerned that she won't have enough money to send her granddaughter to school next year.
"When Layla became an orphan, we also became orphans," said Hassun. "We have no one to take care of us."
There are no accurate statistics on how many orphans are in Iraq. Government sources estimate the figure ranges from the hundreds of thousands to upwards of four to five million.
Institute for War & Peace Reporting: Iraqi Crisis Report on January 25, 2008, 5:00pm