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Kanook James L Bradley December 16th, 2012

The real victims of War

Across our planet as the grownups do battle against this cause or that one, stuffed in between the shelling, bombing and bullet marked building and empty shell casings are the young and the elderly. Some fleeing the destruction to another land, with a great majority of them stuck in the environment of violence with no hope for their future anywhere on the horizon. Today the estimated population of the Earth is 7.06 billion Homo sapiens, where if you follow the age statistics of the USA wed find 1.66 billion of them under the age of 18 and 0.941 billion over the age of 65, which leaves 63.1% of the population in an age group with the ability to legally participate in a war of whatever color raging around the Earth. Translation just under 37% of our population is in effect the direct victims of War. In reality no-matter the age we are all victims of a war, no-matter its location where some of us are fortunate that we are not located within the scope of its reach, we mutter at times obscenities under our breath coupled with a short prayer for the inhabitants of the region. We most likely are old enough to recall the history of war, and maybe some of the reasons for its onset in our national history, as we struggle with our environment to maintain a sense of our existence. Days happen within our sphere of living, such as Sandy Hook that almost destroys our belief in mankind, yet after a few days we again concentrate on our ability to move on and live.

I have been accused, more than once, of being a die-hard flaming liberal, which by itself is not a shameful handle, whereas the group or person laying this description on me have riding in their corner a misconception of what a liberal can be according to their lifestyle. In my opinion a liberal is he or she who walks through the world as someone who looks to the future as an advancement of the human race, in particular the complete absence of War in any shape or form. They embrace, some of them, the onrushing technology being shoved in their faces, while maintaining a firm grip on their past. This grip is not so much that they want to return to the good old days, but the simple fact that we must stop periodically to examine the path we have walked to make sure we dont repeat the mistakes that almost crushed our society. War as it turns out is one that has been documented in some cases with extreme accuracy, facts loaded with values that stun the human mind, youd think we drag these facts out and lay them on the table or examine them on our digital devices and do our level best not to repeat the actions of our ancestorsyoud think. Our digital age has exposed us to numbers that 50 years ago would have boggled the mind, whereas numbers that we used to see in the tens of hundreds, have morphed into values that slide across our devices, newspapers in the tens of billions or trillions. No longer are we anchored to values that we grew up with, now if the totals dont exceed our new boundaries we slough them off as, oh well, it could have been worse, and move on.

Peace it seems can only be something we dream about, a far distant goal that will more than likely occur when either there is not too much more to fight about, or some extraterrestrial member of our Universe pays us a visit if there are such members. It is very hard for me to imagine that there might be another planet or solar system that has experienced the conflicts that have been hoisted on our planet, yet it might well have happened when you consider the age of our system at some 4.5billion years and the calculated age of the Universe at some 13.77 billion years were youngsters at having bumped around on this rock for somewhere around 2million years, give or take. One region of our planet, the Middle East has been doing battle at an almost continuous rate since Abraham walked out of the southern foothills of Turkey somewhere around 2900 BC, dragging along the proposition that there was only one God, his. Today we have witnesses the fall of governments, along with the numerous conflicts before and after World War I in the chase for the Black Gold lurking beneath the soil in various regions, consequently the people of the area we call Arabs have been jerked this way and that way, all in the name of the dollar. Lately we read of the million collateral damage victims of the Iraqi war, a conflict that has stamped all over it as a blatant push for the extraction and control of the billions of barrels of cheap oil beneath its surface by the West, under the guise of Weapons of Mass Destruction that supposedly was held by its dictator Saddam. Now we see the battle continuing as an off-shoot of the Arab Spring that has swept through countries in North Africa and onto Syria, where we are reading of WMDs lying about in the Syrian countryside. Syria over the last two years has witnessed over 40,000 people losing their lives in what today is called a Civil War, a battle to remove again another dictator that at one time was supported along with his father by the West. As in all wars death demonstrates no favorites, galloping across the countryside on his pale horse leaving in his dust the elderly, middle aged, and drastically the young. Riding beside him is his companion the disposed

again another rider who shows very little compassion when it comes to those who are engulfed in the dust created by his galloping horse. Take Ali-Ghazawi a one-year-old born with a heart defect whose little body finally gave up its existence in a refugee camp in north Jordan in the bitter cold of winter. Where his mother ran escaping the fierce bombardment of their home in the province of Deraa, the cradle of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, a graduate dentist who was thrust into power when his father went on to wherever despots go. The 22-year-old mother of Ali tells the story of covering her son with two thin blankets in her attempt to maintain his life, in the West the English language labels this as collateral damage and we move on. Because of the Syrian Civil War over 500,000 people in Jordan are refugees, an overwhelming number that is taxing the resources of UN relief agencies, they are being hammered by too many to track deaths created by a number of reasons, most related to inadequate housing, other brought on by natural causes to the sick and elderly. On the other borders of Syria we see that Lebanon and Turkey have some 140,000 each registered refugees, albeit the actual numbers are over double that amount because of some not wanting to be registered for various reasons. Hidden amongst these numbers is the startling value that 65% of the refugees are newborns and young children keep in mind that over the past decades the population in Syria was young-people. Andrew Harper informs the world, "Every night we are getting children as young as four days old, six days old, one week, two weeks old, and it's a real struggle to try to make sure that everyone survives,"

going on to explain, women are giving birth on the border, and people are coming across pregnant. It's a situation where we just need

to redouble efforts, particularly as we move into winter, because you have hundreds of pregnant women who cross the border. As the head of the UNs High Commissioner for Refugees his task is a 24/7 job in Jordan, along with his counterparts in Lebanon and Turkey. As the functioning head of the family, no matter your location you would sent your vulnerable to safety, where the other day a 97-year-old couple sitting on top their worldly possessions settled into the camp at Zaatari, Jordon as among them were children of all ages darting around the makeshift marketplace with roads of mud, puddles of water with some gravel mixed in, they remarked only that we are finally away from the war! And look there are children everywhere, it is good to be among the young once again. From a distance refugee camps across the land appear to be calm and beautiful with tents clustered together in wide open fields or plastered against small hills here and there, but today its winter usually accompanied with lots of rain, therefore the paths between the tents are streams of water that slip unchecked under the tent walls while the women inside construct dams to prevent their sleeping arrangements from the moisture, in addition the cold weather finds no obstacle as it seeps through the thin walls that offer no protection from the constant breezes all suffer. But hey it war and all must suffer. A great many of the refugees engage in some form of enterprise to survive, selling everything from hot falafel to what household goods they hauled on their back when they left the comfort of their homes, including old clothing and tiny bits of vegetables they might have. It is mostly women who sit by their meager items for sale, some of them who at one time depended on a bread winner, now either dead or mixed up in some manner in the Civil War. Off in one corner of the UN playground you might find a UN volunteer giving music lessons as a gesture to soften the scars of war that run like daytime nightmares through

the minds of the children. One little boy pulls at your shirt sleeve as you walk through them, I long for my home, and I hope Bashar falls to get back my home. Its much better than here, where we are humiliated, say Mohammad Ghazawi at the tender age of 12, who has drifted into the playground after his daily task of selling cheap cigarettes. All across the compound you listen to the elders complaining about the inability of the two-thin-blankets to keep out the moisture and cold, telling you that the zinc reinforcements and waterproof layers are hopeless. Mohammad Samara-46 tells you, Kids are dying from the cold and lack of blankets, shivering at night with many of them with constant diarrhea. Carsten Hansen, a director for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NCR) tells you that some progress has been made, Everyone is trying to mobilize resourcesin order to react to bigger numbers and a huge influx, of the unexpected refugee population, he added, 6,000 gas heaters had been airlifted to Jordan to help heat the tent camp. In looking about he shrugs his shoulders, this humanitarian crisis becoming a major disaster, is what theyre trying to prevent, but, that while aid teams were racing to improve conditions at Zaatari there were 100,000 other registered refugees living outside the camp, and more than likely another 100,000 unregistered, all whose living conditions were not improving. In the town of Bar Elias in Lebanon a women, and her children from the province of Ilib in Syira that her home for the last year has been a wooden shack with scant pieces of plastic sheeting as its roof, rain seeps in and around the cracks although she has found plastic bags to stuff here and there she looks up at you, we have no water, no electricity, and no school for my kids, and you reflect back some three years where Syria had one of the finest school system in the Middle East long gone. She continues, My husband is sick and is partly disabled, the situation shows no future. The NRC director in Lebanon, Mads Almas says that over the past month more and more Syrians are coming into Lebanon hoping to find relief from the effects of the war, in turn overloading the aid relief in Lebanon, the violence will not only continue but also gets worse. And even in the increasingly likely event of the fall of Assad, we dont think the violence will end, Mads states. It is anticipated that by mid-2013 there will be over

300,000 registered refugees in Lebanon, a situation he says, at first we thought it was too high. Now were concerned it is too low. Unofficial numbers put the unregistered numbers around 200,000, or in-total during the next few months over million Syrian refugees. Officially in Turkey there are some 130,000 refugees, camps there in most part have facilities such as portable electric heaters, and refugees receive three hot meals a day from the Red Crescent yet the caregivers and the refugees fight the bitter cold, more often at night experiencing temperatures well below freezing, and if above horrendous rain storms that causes flooding it is winter and still the battles continue in Syria pushing more and more across its borders. Unofficially in Turkey, another 150,000 that are not registered. Depending on who is running the numbers in Jordan there are over 500,000 refugees, Lebanon 500,000 refugees, and in Turkey 300,000 total 1,300,000 with a conservative estimate that 65% are under the age of eighteen (18) or 845,000 youngsters, the majority (445,000) remaining mostly over the age of 60/65. Overcrowding is a serious concern in these refugee camps, where it is not uncommon to find large extended families sharing a single tent, and across all of Syria due to the information received by the aid workers they know that the refuges still in Syria equal those who have fled the country, now link this with the mixture of rebel groups fighting the Assad government, and you can see the fear of and extended period of violence even is Assad was too fall. Assuming that the violence will soon overwhelm Damascus the aid workers in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey are counting on 5,000 to 10,000 every twelvehours to flee across the three borders although their supplies are somewhat meeting the demand today, if this were to happen they now they would not be able to provide even the barest of necessities for the influx of refugees.