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Latest update : 2017-03-10

Iraq's lost children: Victims of post-traumatic stress

In Iraq, thousands of civilians are fleeing the battle of Mosul against the Islamic State group jihadists. Many of the displaced have reached IDP camps in the north of the country. But although the war is now behind them, its horrors are still fresh in their minds. Children are particularly traumatised by what they have witnessed: shocking scenes of decapitations, stonings or public hangings. As the camps lack basic services, the youngsters receive little psychological care.

A young girl remembers the Islamic State (IS) group cutting off children’s faces. A boy recalls being tortured by the jihadists, who severed his fingers and murdered his father. As the battle against the IS group continues to rage in Iraq and Syria, families fleeing the violence have struggled to find peace. The victims of post-traumatic stress, many children live in a sort of waking nightmare.

Shocked by the horrors they have witnessed, some wet the bed or sleepwalk, while others become aggressive or have trouble expressing themselves appropriately.

Yet some have been able to gradually forget the stonings and explosions through language, art, games or returning to school. This special report takes a look at the important role psychiatric services play in a country overwhelmed with refugees and where humanitarian aid is often slow to arrive.

A report by Damien Lefauconnier
Camera: Damien Lefauconnier
Editing: Aurélie Cauchy / Yassir Guelzim
Sound mix: Philippe Latron
Production: MPTN PROD / Yassir Guelzim
Post-production: Sandra Surnom

By Damien LEFAUCONNIER

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