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War Victims: Orphans

War Victims: Orphans

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INTRODUCTION

The United Nations (UN) data shows that the increasingly rampant events such as wars, natural disasters, plagues, social chaos, economic problems and unlawful intercourses have led to the number of the world’s orphan[1] to surpassed 140 million in 2015. According to Islamic fiqh literature, the term[2] "orphan" is used to describe children who loose their father before they reach puberty. Whereas in modern international literature, the term[3] “orphan” defines children who loose one or both of their parents before reaching the age of 18. Taking into account that 2.2 out of 7.6 billion of the world population[4] consists of children, it is estimated that 6.5% of the total number of children in the world are orphans.

Aside from becoming orphans, many children also suffer from kidnappings, being made into child soldiers or imprisoned under armed forces, although the number is difficult to be precisely established. However, it is reported[5] that more than 300.000 children have been armed and are actively fighting in more than 30 countries. It is also reported[6] that more than 218 million children between the ages of 5-17 are working and 73 million of these children are working at dangerous jobs. The majority of these children are believed to be either deprived of family protection or living alone. The fact that children are the most affected group in countries where natural disasters, poverty, diseases, accidents and wars are taking place is causing the numbers of orphans only to increase.

In this report, the physical, psychological, social, economic and educational problems that orphans go through will be elaborated and some recommendations on how to solve the problems will be provided.

STATISTICS

Today there are more than 385 million children worldwide who live[7] under harsh and poor conditions. The number of such children is only increasing day by day and more and more children are becoming orphans with their parents’ passing. Findings show that there are 15.1 million children who have lost both of their parents. This number is constantly rising due to wars, diseases, natural disasters and other reasons, leaving thousands of children parentless. The percentage of orphans is particularly extremely high in underdeveloped and developing countries. 95% of orphans in the world are over[8] the age of 5. On the other hand, the number of orphan-like children, who are living with just one parent despite not losing one of their parents, is also rapidly increasing. For instance, a study[9] that was carried out in the United States of America shows that approximately 45% of families do not include a father. Another study[10] foresees that almost half of the children born are going to live with a single parent for a certain period before they reach the age of 18.

Analyzing the orphan statistics, it can be seen that the continents of Asia and Africa have the highest number of orphans. According to a study in 2015, the distribution of the number of orphans based on continent is as follows:

Countries with High Numbers of Orphan

 

Country

The Number of Orphan

1

India

31,000,000[11]

2

Nigeria

17,500,000[12]

3

Ethiopia

5,500,000[13]

4

Bangladesh

4,900,000[14]

5

Pakistan

4.400.000[15]

6

The Republic of South Africa

4.238.000[16]

7

Uganda

2.700.000[17]

8

Philippines

2.500.000[18]

9

Mozambique

2.100.000[19]

10

Afghanistan

1.600.000[20]

11

Zimbabwe

1.600.000[21]

12

Zambia

1.453.000[22]

13

Iraq

1.450.000[23]

14

Malawi

1.309.000[24]

In the Syrian war that has surpassed its 8th year and is recorded to be one of the cruelest wars in human history, international organizations found that a great deal of humanitarian and war crimes were performed. According to official data, at least 450.000[25] were killed in Syria in the past 8 years. The Syrian transitional government also states that 800.000 children in the country became orphans[26] by losing either one or both of their parents. Besides the aforementioned number of orphans, there are also children who live just like orphans even though both of their parents are alive. Literatures describe this situation as “social orphanhood”. Many children[27] are living without the protection of their parents, due to reasons such as substance abuse, parents who live far from their children, parents who suffer from diseases, negative characteristics, poverty etc. The number of children who suffer social orphanhood is almost as much as the number of children who are victims of wars and natural disasters. For example, it has been detected[28] that 80% out of 30.000 children who are living in 750 different orphanages actually have one living parent.

FACTORS THAT LEAD TO ORPHANHOOD

Loss of Parent/s Due to Natural Causes

Thousands of children are becoming orphans everyday due to losing their parent/s for a certain reason. Traffic accidents, diseases, murders, industrial accidents and other similar reasons are the main factors that cause orphanhood. Orphaned children are bound to face harsh economic and social conditions. These children are sent to either one of their relatives or orphanages. Besides, the increasing number children born out of wedlock in the last 20-30 years are also causing similar consequences. These children are being abandoned, left in dormitories or experience other negative situations even though their parents are alive. For example, according to the 2016 data on Europe, 6 out of 10 children[29] are born outside of marriages in France alone. The study indicates that these children are living away from a family-like environment or living with disadvantages such as physical or psychological problems similar to that of orphans. While the number of children who are born outside of marriages in Turkey is 2.9%,[30] that rate in the US and UK are 40.2%. As for Europe, it is approximately 55%.[31]

Orphanhood Caused by War or Other Conflicts

Almost 10.000 children are becoming orphans on a daily basis due to ongoing wars, conflicts, drought, epidemics and famine. This number corresponds to 3.5 million[32] orphans per year. When we look at wars in particular, it can be seen[33] on the global level that approximately 420 million children are living under dangerous and unstable environments, considering that they might wake up to gunshot noises and that they may experience bombardments, kidnappings and the fear of death. And sometimes, that fear is realized. Sometimes, children die in wars.

It was observed that more than 2 million children were killed, more than 1 million children became orphans, more than 6 million children were injured badly or became disabled due to armed conflicts in the last 10 years. Besides, it is found[34] that at least 15 million children in the world had to take refuge in other countries and more than 10 million children are affected during the process and experienced major traumas.

Wars are not only agonizing for adults, but it also agonizes children. For instance, in almost nine years of the Syrian war, 28,226 children lost their lives and 4,469 were arrested, according to official reports. The fate of the arrested children is unknown. The number of children who died due to tortures following their arrest is known to be 176[35]. The fate of many more children is also not known due to the challenges of producing accurate data under warfare. The children around the world are continually damaged both physically and emotionally due to wars and conflicts. It is also known that 8,000-10,000 children either die or become disabled every year due to explosion of land mines that were installed by the opponent countries in previous wars.[36]

Natural Disasters

Natural disasters like flood, earthquake, tsunami and drought cause major traumatic consequences in societies. These natural disasters that cause mass death tolls and material damages also cause children to become orphan or having to live alone. With massive destructions in Asian and African countries where infrastructure is not developed or even lacking, natural disasters are the main factors that increase the orphan population in these territories. For instance, in 2004, 227,898[37] people lost their lives, 4,400 children lost one parent and 10,000[38] children lost both of their parents in Aceh after the Tsunami that was caused by an earthquake in the Indian Ocean. In Africa, thousands of children became orphans due to reasons related to drought in the continent.

Poverty

At present, more than 385 million children, most of whom are orphans, are living under the poverty line. Being one of the factors of orphanhood, poverty is a major problem that has grave impacts on the global level. This is because in the modern world[39] 1.2 billion people still earn less than one Dollar daily; so it is no surprise that many people lose their lives due to reasons related to poverty. The countries where the children become orphans due to poverty are mostly in the African continent.

Diseases

Millions of people in the world are fighting some epidemics or chronic diseases that come with lethal effects. Some of these people lose their lives due to insufficient medical care, lack of nutrition or hygiene problems. Cases of illnesses such as AIDS, Malaria and Ebola are seen frequently in Africa, Central and South America. At present, one child is losing[40] one of his/her parents due to AIDS every 14 seconds. The available data show that more than 13 million children[41] became orphans due to AIDS. When it comes to losing a mother, one of the reasons that leaves children motherless is maternal mortality, caused by complications during processes of pregnancy or birth. Statistics[42] indicate that 568,000 maternal mortalities occur each year.

Being Given for Adoption

The number of families that give their children up for adoption or hand them out to various foundations due to reasons such as financial problems, wedlock, too young parents, not wanting a child or other various social pressures cannot be underestimated. Even though the number of children who live in orphanages hasn’t been confirmed yet, according to UN, the number reached 2.7 million.[43]

PROBLEMS OF CHILDREN WHO ARE WAR VICTIMS

Children who are victims of war are facing various major problems, namely problems that are health-related, security-related, psychological, social, economic, and education.

Health-Related Problems

Children who became orphans to wars might have health issues due to the trauma that they go through. Language acquisition and development of these children can be affected; i.e. slow-paced speech or in more serious cases, stuttering. Some orphansare found to feel uncomfortable to make eye contact with other people. Some even experience eating or sleeping disorders.

Many studies show that most of the health problems that were observed on the children were psychosomatic and are caused by the conditions and hardships they experience. Children, especially the ones who lost their parents and experience depression, anxiety disorders, phobias, anger and stress disorders, asthma, headache, stomach disorders and suicide attempts are evident to the studies. Cases of developmental regression are also observed on such children. These types of health problems are often seen throughout underdeveloped and developing countries or countries under warfare.

Moreover, bombardments of hospital and medical foundations, killings of doctors and medical personnel, shortage of medical supplies, cases of disability and loss of lives are rampant in these territories. In the Syrian war for instance, children who have to live under unhygienic camps, tents, and containers, face many health risks.

Aside from the elderly, children who live under these conditions are those who are mostly affected by all these problems and they often develop some health-related problems. The common health problems are as follow:

  • Eating disorders
  • Regression of growth and development
  • Anemia
  • Diarrhea
  • Measles
  • Malaria
  • Contagious diseases such as respiratory tract infection
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Unwanted pregnancies
  • Risky pregnancies
  • Aborts
  • Complications of birth
  • Premature births
  • Depression
  • Sleeping disorders
  • Mental problems
  • Dental problems
  • Respiratory illnesses
  • Diabetes
  • Disabilities[44]
     

The harsh conditions of the camps are even harsher for orphan children. With no one to care of them, diseases and disabilities are factors that may lead to child abuse for these children.

One of the most common health-related problems that the orphans face is disability. This condition is either congenital or caused by war-related factors. It is known that there are thousands of children that became disabled due to wars. However, it is not possible to provide the precise number of these children. The ongoing clashes in the world, namely in the Middle East, cause many children to get injured or become disabled.

In wars, chemicals (i.e. chemicals weapons or chemicals found in defense equipment) are immense, and the negative effects caused by such substance last for many years. There are many children who are born mentally or physically disabled due to such chemicals. For instance, it was found that there were more than 300,000 disabled children in 1980’s in the war-torn Afghanistan, and this number jumped to 867,100, still due to the war and landmine explosions in 2005 and 2006.[45] It is also stated that 42% of Palestinian children who are trying to survive under Israeli attacks have more than one disability.[46] Imagine if this happened to orphans.

AIDS victims’ orphans

Just as the effects of chemical weapons can be transmitted to their offspring, AIDS too, can be transmitted to babies. This disease, which can affect children as much as adults, is especially common in Africa. The disease has caused high death rate and as a result, thousands of children have to become orphans. For example, it is stated that 310,000[47] children in Sierra Leone and 2.9 million children in Uganda became orphans when they lost their parents due to AIDS. 74% of orphans in Zimbabwe and 63%[48] of orphans in South Africa also became orphans due to AIDS[49]. One third of orphans in Kenya, whose number is between 1.7 and 3 million, became orphans because of AIDS. On top of that, many children have also lost their lives because of viruses transmitted from their parents. For instance, it is known that more than 85,000 out of 5.5 million orphans are carrying[50] the HIV virus in Ethiopia. It is estimated[51] that there are more than 13 million children who became orphans because of AIDS on the global level.

Security Problems

Security is almost absent in warzones. People often have to leave their homes and even their countries due to the lack of security in where they live. It is an irony of how millions of women, children and elderly people set off to a dangerous journey, for the sake of reaching a safer place. 11 million people had to relocate during the Syrian war, 5.6 million of them had to leave the country. Between 3.5-4 million of the refugees[52] came to Turkey while others took refuge in other countries namely Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt.

On the borders where there are masses of refugees, many people became targets of malignant people such as organ mafias and human traffickers. These threats happen particularly to women and children. Studies[53] reveal that approximately 1.2 million children were faced with cases of human trafficking. The majority of these children are orphans. The criminal syndicates would organize organ trafficking, human trafficking as well as making these children beg and ‘giving’ them up for adoption in illegal ways. For example, the fact that there are no updates about 10,000 Syrian children[54] where most of whom are orphans who took refuge in Europe in the last five years is an issue of concern.

It is a well-known fact that many young girls were kidnapped for prostitution or exploited as maids. It was also recorded that orphans in illegal organizations are used to carry out illegal jobs and are used as child soldiers. For instance, it was found that thousands of children[55] in Colombia are forced to become child soldiers by their foster families and 3,377 children[56] were forcibly armed in Syria. Some of these children did not survive, while some who did, would certainly need a lot of healing due to the psychological problems that they almost certainly suffer from.

Psychological Problems

In Afghanistan, which is regarded as the second poorest country in the world, where people struggle to survive under warzones, 250 children lost their lives in 2009 alone due to terrorist attacks. It is also known that many children in the country were used as soldiers.[57]

In a study that was carried out in Russia in 2002, the living conditions of orphans that live in orphans’ asylums were researched. The results were striking. In the study, it was revealed that 15,000 orphans that left the asylum when they turned 18 were interviewed two years after their departure. It was determined that 5,000 of the youth were unemployed, 6,000 were homeless, 3,000 were involved in crimes, 1,500 attempted to commit suicide at least once and many orphans were forced to perform prostitution.[58]

We could see how wars are traumatic events that leave destructive effects on people’s lives. They leave negative psychological and cognitive effects on people and these effects linger, some short-term while others would suffer long-term effects, depending on the severity of the traumas. And the effects would just be worse on orphans. Because, those children are already in a challenging situation due to the loss of their parents; but on top of that they have to face the destructive effects of war, and this is making the orphans’ lives even more fragile.

The Syrian war being the closest example could give us important ideas and clues about the psychological and social problems that the orphans are going through. Because many adults and children, orphans or not, are experiencing severe depression, stress, anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, burnout syndrome and hyperactivity, as well as feeling worthless and lonely. Being an orphan in a warzone is much harder than being an orphan in other conditions of living. Because, children who are trying to built their identities after losing either one or both of their parents are facing so many obstacles along the way and are psychologically affected from the situation in the worst possible way. Of course, it cannot be said that every single one of these orphans are prone to experience major psychological and social problems; however, it is an undeniable truth that living through the years of biological and psychological development without a parent can lead to highly noticeable negative effects.

A mother is an irreplaceable figure for her children. She is the one who the children can share their deepest secrets with, a figure that cares, shows affection, and fulfills the needs of her children, who supports her children’s education, prepares them for the future and instills confidence in them. The absence of a mother figure would compromise children’s material and emotional needs from being met. As for the father figure, he teaches his children about love, responsibility, social life, fun, self-confidence, facing challenges in life and respect. Analyzing possible psychological problems that orphans might go through would enable us to understand the issue better. Therefore, the common problems are listed below.

Lack of Life Skills

Children observe their parents over time to learn how to love, how to stand strong against hardships in life, how to respect their environment, how to trust, how to protect themselves and their loved ones, how to be successful, how to earn money, and other life skills. If the father figure who tries to support their children’s academic and social skill is no longer in their lives, then regression and deceleration in learning these types of skills can be observed. Many studies that research how life skills are affected in case of lack of a parent show that orphans who lose their parents often have lower grades and act timidly and are more introverted compared to their peers.

Committing Crimes

Orphans often express their feelings with anger, and they also develop fragility in their emotions. This would make them have more potential of committing crimes compared to other children. The children who develop anger due to disappointment and the feeling of being deserted might be vent their feelings through anger to their surroundings. When a person have a violence tendency, coupled with being involved in gang fights, exhibiting antisocial behaviors, violent and anarchist behaviors in terms of disregarding the authority and social incompatibility would ease these children to commit crimes.[59]

            Substance Abuse

Even with the information of the negative impacts drugs and other substance have physically, psychologically and socially, many of today’s young people are still trapped into substance addiction. And this fact is even more worrying among orphan youth. The consumption rate of cigarettes, alcohol and drugs among orphan youth or victims of social orphanhood in particular is high. According to studies, the percentage of cigarette consumption of individuals from broken families is around 14% while the same percentage in individuals from unbroken families is 9%. The percentage alcohol addicts of individuals that come from broken families is 18.2 %, while the same percentage in individuals from intact families is 13.1%.[60] Another study also shows that 50% of addicts of heroin come from broken families.[61]

            Broken Trust

In many families, a father provides protection to his family. Therefore, the loss of a father leads to major emptiness and distrust in orphaned children. These children may not know how to protect themselves or how to face the challenges in life. Dealing with questions like who is going to earn money for the house, how should livelihood in the house be maintained, who will protect their mother and siblings might cause the children to develop anxiety disorder caused by these fears aside from the emptiness and distrust.

            Lack of Love

One of the fundamental needs of human beings is love. Babies, children and adults who receive love from their parents always depend on this special bond. However, the failure in meeting the need of love, which is caused by the absence of parents, might resort to problems on orphans. Girls particularly who ideally are fond of their fathers might try to meet this need by filling the gap with a stranger or with a much older person. Or, in direct opposition, they might feel challenged when it comes to loving or making connection to others.

            Anger and Violence

Another problem that might occur on orphaned children is that they tend to think that they are more defected, weak and less worth compared to their peers. These thoughts might cause inferiority complex one way or another and when they compare themselves with other children, where lack of self-confidence might take over. Unless these wrong thoughts are treated, these children are prone to continue feeling unworthy and unhappy.

            Sexual Problems

Male and female orphans’ reactions to the issue of sexuality differ in some ways. Girls generally tend to look for love. They might even have extramarital sexual intercourse as a result. Flirting in early ages, having sexual activities, being involved in early marriages or experience early pregnancy can be seen more in orphaned girls compared to their peers. However, in the opposite direction, some would experience difficulties in sexual intercourses. As for male orphans, the lack of a father figure might affect their sexual identity development and the lack of a good role model might lead to sexual identity problems.

            Social Problems

From time to time, mothers and fathers, as figures of authority, play a major role in disciplining and guiding their children. In the absence of parents, male children especially, might have a hard time connecting and adapting to a new form of authority. The reason why they exhibit anarchy, rebellion and obstinacy is because of the problems they faced during their adaption process. In this process, children might run away from homes, skip school, break laws or damage public property. They might also exhibit behaviors such as being more rebellious, violent and uncontrollable compared to children with parents.

Abusive response for any negative behavior on children under the age of 18 might lead to physical, emotional and sexual exploitation which would negatively affect children’s mental and physical health, survival, development and trust. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 25% of adults had been physically abused in their childhood, while 20% of women and 8% of men had been sexually abused in their childhood. Also, 31,000 children under the age of 15 lose their lives due to acts of abuse every year.[62]

Naturally, the cases of abuse are more common in warzones. Thus, 40 million children under the age of 15 became victims of abuse and negligence, making them in need of services that include health-related and social aids.[63] For example, it is reported that 1,500 children in Afghanistan are sexually abused[64] and that the abusers are not being identified for several reasons; thus, making the cases of abuse left unsolved.

Another situation that is both heartbreaking and traumatic for young children is when they experience outcast and are left alone especially because they do not have parents. In some cases, this situation is caused by the orphans themselves, with his/her own will to get away from their surroundings; in other cases, it is caused by the society’s and their peers’ behaviors that lack empathy. It is a commonly observable situation that orphans, who interpret that not having parents is a problem, a crime or a mistake, isolate themselves socially and become more and more introverted. When the situation of being a refugee is added into such an environment, the cases of ostracism against children and adults happen even more often. The Syrian population in our country provides a vivid example of social reflections in regards to this situation. According to the latest research, there are 1,662,171 Syrian children[65] between the ages of 0-18 in Turkey, and a part of these children are orphans. Considering the conditions that these orphans live in, it is safe to say that these orphans are having traumas that will lead to major problems in the future.

Unfortunately these people, who had to leave their countries due to war to take refuge in safer territories, are not always being treated kindly; and this situation can be substantially challenging for women and unprotected children. Aside from these numbers, it shouldn’t be forgotten that there are 150 million[66] children who live on the streets and that many of them are orphans who need protection.

Another negative factor that targets orphans, and especially the young ones who live in warzones with financial difficulties and without the support of others, is the missionary organizations that target these children and use their benign outlook. Christian aid foundations, which carry out these activities in different parts of the world through their humanitarian aids particularly in natural disaster and war areas, are using various methods to convert children and locals to become Christian. These groups aim to change these people’s religion by providing them scholarship, food, shelter, work, educational aids, health-related aids or adoption services. They are carrying out their activities especially in Africa, Asia, Middle East and Balkan.

            Economic Problems

On the global level, approximately 385 million children[67] are barely surviving under harsh financial conditions. Especially in African countries, the number of children who die before reaching the age of 5 is strikingly high. Because of reasons such as chronic poverty, unemployment and low level of education, these people are having troubles finding jobs and maintaining decent lives. When the problems of war are added to this equation, developmental and economic crises that will go on for many years take place in the aforementioned areas. As a global problem, economic problems affect orphans who live off on other people’s aids in a very negative way. For instance, in today’s war-torn Yemen, there are 12.3 million people who need humanitarian aid. 54% of the population is trying to survive under harsh economic conditions. 23% of children[68] in the country are victims of child labor. These rates are even higher in Afghanistan. 54% of the Afghan population[69] is barely surviving under extreme poverty. 29% of children in this country work at dangerous and high-risk jobs. As for Burundi, which is the poorest country in the world, 68% of the population lives under the poverty line and more than that, there are many child workers in the country where there are more than 600,000 orphans.[70]

            Educational Problems

On the global level, 263 million children cannot go to school and receive regular education.[71] 80 million elementary school-aged girls do not go to school at all.[72] The percentage of children that do not go to school in Iraq due to the Iraqi war is 22%.[73] Because of the ongoing Yemeni war, 2 million children cannot continue their education. In Yemen, 1 out of every 10 school[74] is either damaged or destroyed. As for Syria where there are 11 million children, 3 million out of 8 million elementary school-aged children[75] cannot go to school. Even though the prolonged war in Afghanistan has ended, 42% of Afghani children still cannot go to school.[76] It is estimated that most of these children who are deprived of their educational rights are orphans. In Somalia, 49% of children[77] who has reached their school age cannot go to school.

In areas where there are prolonged wars and ongoing conflicts, the system of education is harmed in a very negative way and, therefore, one of the most natural rights of children, which is to be educated, is violated most of the time. Studies on the issue of possible relations between the absence of parents and academic success show that children with just one parent are less successful than those who have both of their parents.[78] When the state of being an orphan in warzones is added to such situations, these children’s participation in schools and their success would decrease substantially.

PROPOSED SOLUTIONS

When it comes to children’s emotional, behavioral and social development, fathers are the role models for their sons and mother are the role models for their daughters. The absence of one or both parents could lead to staggering results. However, psychological problems caused by the absence of a father can be prevented or reduced with the mothers’ precautions; similarly, psychological problems caused by the absence of a mother can be prevented or reduced with the fathers’ precautions too.

Every member of the society is responsible for orphaned children. The most fundamental responsibilities are to educate them about the ethical and humanitarian values and teach them how to love, how to be sincere and how to show empathy towards others. If an orphan or a fatherless/motherless child feels that he/she is not alone, if his/her self-confidence is built, if he/she can connect to someone who is close to him/her and take that person as a role model; he/she can overcome the mourning process and heal his/her own wounds easier. Otherwise, it is inevitable for the psychological state of these children to be affected negatively. Growing up without the feelings of love and trust would surely affect these children’s characteristics and their future in a negative way. Thus, a generation with destructive characteristics will emerge.

Therefore, the issue of orphans and orphanhood is a special subject of the society. Everyone is responsible to ensure their physical and mental growth so they too can become mentally stable individuals. It is particularly important to initiate a systematic movement to determine and eliminate the problems that orphans go through. In this context, some recommendations below are about how to protect orphans and educate the society:

  • Both public establishments and the society have to take on the responsibility of orphans in a straightforward manner, while official foundations and voluntary foundations have to cooperate actively on this subject.
  • All official sources and voluntary foundations have to work actively to protect unprotected children and orphans and provide them a life with better standards. To do so, detecting the problems they face, the areas where they need help, and dangers that await them in life is mandatory and every element of the society must be educated about orphans and orphanhood. With this notion in mind, government-organized conferences, education programs, and publishing are important efforts that will be beneficial.
  • Legislative regulations about orphans must be made according to their current needs and the government must guarantee the entire rights of orphans.
  • The question of “how to eliminate factors that lead children to become orphans” must be addressed prior to the question of “how to help orphans” and all precautions must be taken accordingly.
  • Orphans’ health-related, educational and other issues must be detected and eliminated. Support and assistance must be given to children to prevent them from working at young age in order to alleviate their anxiety of surviving.
  • In order to solve the problems, relevant element of the society must come with plans that are prepared on a macro level to end tragedies caused by hunger, drought, illnesses, poverty, wars and natural disasters worldwide; and all countries must be urged to adopt more humane policies when it comes to this subject.
  • Flaws in the current adoption system must be corrected; applications, especially the common system in the west, that allow children to be traded like goods should be stopped.
  • The right of children to be raised in their home countries, together with their relatives (if they have) and in their own culture must be supported under any circumstances. Raising these children in orphanages should only be the last resort.
  • Proper physical requirements should be provided for children who live in orphanages or similar foundations. The staff in these foundations must be educated about orphanhood and the psychological aspects of it.
  • There must be movements to boost literature about orphanhood that is not sufficient currently. Organizing movements to prepare essential works that will help in informing and educating the society about orphanhood, preparing academic articles, organizing local and international meetings about orphans and the problems that they go through, and discussing about solutions are needed are some activities that can be carried out in this regard.
  • People and syndicates such as organ mafias, gangs of mendacity, prostitution mafias, crime gangs, and poachers with bad intentions, are major threat groups for thousands of unprotected orphans. The law must increase the intensity of punishment for the people who abuse children with their illegal actions.
  • More conscious steps must be taken when it comes to missionary people and foundations that corrupt orphans’ religion and culture under the name of foster family system. The most important responsibility that we as the people with humanitarian duties and as Muslims have is to protect orphans’ rights, care for them and educate the public on how to address the issue of orphans in their financial and emotional needs.
  • It is important for orphans to receive psychological and social support to be healthy, hopeful, and educated adults of the future. Every type of professional support must be provided for orphans to prepare them for life challenges. Within this scope, employing therapists specialized on trauma in warzones is surely one of the most fundamental services for orphans and their relatives.
  • Orphans, especially the ones living in warzones, are facing many health problems. One of the most serious problems in this case is the delay in treating diseases due to shortages of treatment and medical resources. Besides the fact that they have to live under unhygienic conditions, their inability to gain essential treatments, financial inadequacies, and the dangers that they encounter on the way to hospital are the most common problems that orphans in warzones go through. Keeping in mind that many orphans became disabled due to bombardments; activities such as increasing the number of physical treatment and rehabilitation centers, founding orthosis-prosthesis centers, providing battery-powered wheelchairs, crutches, restrooms for the disabled, hearing aids, glasses, specific medicines, food, and drinkable water as well as medical aids should be carried out.
  • In warzones, education reached to a point where it is almost stopped, schools are bombed and destroyed, students and teachers are killed; therefore, educational activities are interrupted. Many orphans couldn’t learn how to read and write; or they could only finished their elementary education at most. Considering the importance of education in children’s future, especially that of orphans, it can be understood that supporting education is paramount. Therefore, increasing the number of schools in warzones and designing suitable conditions to meet the needs of these schools are necessary. Besides, increasing the number of foundations that provide special needs education program for special needs orphans and preparing teachers who are trained in the field; and generalizing education programs with transportation ease have their importance, as well.
  • Initiatives such as employing orphans once they have reached18 under safe and suitable jobs; designing work areas according to their accessibility needs, organizing courses to help prepare them for work, providing suitable jobs of the related courses, helping them in build their own business are the types of assistance that can be carried out by governmental or non-governmental foundations.
  • Every individual must realize that they have an important responsibility to communicate with orphans to make them feel special in order to eliminate the feeling of being deserted caused by the hardships and psychological traumas that orphans experience, and that it is also a responsible to create bonds with them in order to prevent biases against orphanhood. Orphanhood is a really hard challenge for children, especially for the ones living in warzones or those who become refugees. Due to being exposed to hate speeches and alienation, orphans are having hard time facing such negativities.
     

CONCLUSION

At present, orphans, as war victims, have to overcome the bitter cruelty of wars, and dealing with the loss of their parents all the while. Orphans without a doubt, are the group that deserves the highest public attention. It shouldn’t be forgotten that orphans that are war victims are much more fragile at this point. Thus, it is important for foundations that care for orphans to develop individual care models for the specific needs of each and every single one of the orphans, aside from providing holistic and general solutions.

It is an undeniable fact that it is not right to generalize the situation by saying that every orphan has major problems, even though orphanhood is hard for all children. There is always hope in cases where the society and families are educated about the issue and where they adopt and support the orphans.

It shouldn’t be forgotten that there are many orphans, in the history of the world, that become historical figures such as leaders, politicians, scientists and those who dedicate themselves in serving the humanity. The important thing is to be familiarized with the concept of orphanhood and develop financial and emotional aid movements that can contribute to solutions of orphans’ problems.

To sum up, there can be observable negativities, which are social and psychological, caused by the loss of either one or both of their parents for various reasons; however, we shouldn’t forget that if the necessary precautions are taken and the concepts of ethics, conscience, and humanitarian values are well taught in raising the next generations; every single child is a beacon of hope.

APPENDIX

ABOUT IHH HUMANITARIAN RELIEF FOUNDATION

IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation was established in 1992 with the mission of bringing humanitarian aid to those in need, regardless of ethnicity, religion, language or race. IHH has worked tirelessly to prevent the violation of human rights and freedoms, helping those who are in distress, starving, victims of war or natural disasters, those who are wounded or disabled, and those who have become homeless.

Beginning with voluntary activities in 1992 and becoming institutionalized in 1995, within a very short period IHH has formed a bridge of charity that allows it provide aids 135 countries and regions spread across five continents. While implementing its activities IHH gives its priority to the development of solidarity, unity and fraternity in the countries and regions it assists and realizes many relevant social and cultural projects.

According to precedence, IHH realizes its mission in:

  • Countries and regions where wars and the outcomes of war continue,
  • Lands affected by natural disasters,
  • Poverty-stricken countries and regions.
     

Mission

  • To give all needy and oppressed people the chance to have a dignified life while delivering aid wherever they are with an understanding of universal brotherhood in order to help prevent evil and to let good and justice prevail
  • To work toward stopping the policies and activities that persecute and discriminate people in order to prevent violations of their basic rights and freedoms
  • To keep up practicing unchanging values in a changing world
  • To let the good prevail everywhere.
     

Vision

  • To eliminate the negative effects of wars and natural disasters and to create the circumstances that allows individuals and communities become independent.
  • To pioneer global humanitarian work and improve the cooperation among countries and organizations to pave the way to the formation of a common consciousness.
  • To strengthen individuals and organizations in impoverished communities.
  • To reach out to the regions of crisis immediately to efficiently minimize the damage as much as possible.
  • To offer permanent solutions by realizing permanent projects.
  • To contribute to the elimination of poverty and the establishment of justice.
     

Work Ethics

  • To pioneer.
  • To bridge nations.
  • To be just.
  • To be the voice of the oppressed.
  • To help the creation of a just world where there is no exploitation.
  • To use what is entrusted to us in the best way possible.
  • To be transparent.
  • To prioritize not the brand nor the name but serving the people.
  • To help every person in need regardless of religion, race, language or sect.

 

Awards

The activities conducted by IHH since 1995 have been appreciated by competent authorities. Various awards have been granted to IHH which reinforce and confirm the success of IHH’s activities.

Some examples of awards received in recent years:

  • Syria Siccu Container City Project - Energy Globe Awards (2016)
  • Agriculture School (Somali) - AK Parti Civil Society Awareness of the Year Awards, grand award in the field of humanitarian relief (2017)
  • “Humanitarianism in war and peace” medal by General Directorate of Red Crescent (2012)
  • Human Rights Award by International Joint Culture Youth Council (COJEP) (2010)
  • Turkish Parliament Award of Honor (2007)
  • Ashiyana Orphanage (PAKISTAN) was granted, “Best Project ever Achieved” by the Turkish General Directorate of Foundations (2006)
  • Women Education Institute (SOMALIA) was granted, “Best Project ever Achieved” by the Turkish General Directorate of Foundations (2006)
  • Mobile Hospital (IRAQ) was granted, “Best Project ever Achieved” by the Turkish General Directorate of Foundations (2006)
  • The “Foundation that makes best use of its resources” award by the Turkish General Directorate of Foundations (2005)
     

International Memberships

  • Membership to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) with the consultative status
  • Membership to Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as an Advisor of Non-Governmental and Humanitarian Aid Organizations
  • Membership to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Humanitarian Forum
  • Membership to The Humanitarian Forum
  • Membership to the Council of International Organizations for Relief in Iraq
  • Membership to the Union of NGOs of the Islamic World (UNIW)
  • Membership to the Turkish Foundation for Volunteer Organizations (TGTV)
     

IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation was granted “Tax Immunity Status” with the Cabinet Decree dated 04.04.2011 with no.2011/1799 pursuant to the article 20 of Law No. 4962 dated 30.07.2003, upon receipt of the letter of Ministry of Finance dated 08.05.2009 and no. 48107 for “Eligibility for Tax Immunity Status”. Therefore, our foundation gained a permanent authorization for charity collection and our benefactors are allowed to deduct their financial donations from their tax bases, provided that such donations do not exceed 5% of their income declarations (10% if in priority regions for development). Besides, pursuant to Article 6 of “Charity Collection Law” no. 2860, the request of IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation for being recognized as a “Relief Organization That is Allowed to Collect Charity without Seeking Any Permission” was approved with the Cabinet Decree dated 01.04.2013 with no. 2013/4588.

IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation is regularly audited by General Directorate of Foundations as well as independent auditors.

ORPHAN CARE EFFORTS

Orphan/homeless child

An orphan child supported by the IHH orphan care program is an individual in Turkey or other places in the world who has lost their a father or both mother and father to war, occupation, natural disaster, chronic poverty, disease, accidents and similar reasons and who lives with a relative or in an orphanage.

Objectives of the orphan care efforts

  • To support orphan children who are unable to support themselves until they become self-sufficient by providing them education and prepare them for life with the compassion of a family.
  • To take necessary steps to prevent violations of basic rights and freedoms of orphan children as well as other disadvantaged children.
  • To construct safe environments where both material and non-material needs of orphan children are met.
  • To support the increase of well-educated human beings in territories in which social order is shaken by wars, occupations, natural disasters etc. and to contribute to the reestablishment of social peace.
     

Categories of Humanitarian Aid for Orphans

Education: The educational needs of school-aged orphans are supported via Orphan Sponsorship Support System. IHH strives to provide the necessary needs to help prepare children for the future in the best way, by way of supporting these children until they complete their education. In back-to-school time each year, IHH provides children with books, stationary, outfit and other needs.

Health: Along with providing medical care and medications for children, aid projects such as medical scans, vaccines, medical supplies and psychological support are carried out to enable the children to grow healthily.

Shelter: IHH also builds orphanages to ensure healthy living condition for orphan children. As for orphans who live with their mothers, their houses are being built, repaired, reconstructed or decorated.

Nourishment: Along with providing children with their basic needs in the field of nutrition, projects such as distribution of food packages and social aids are carried out.

Clothing: On Orphan’s Solidarity Days, Ramadan festival and the festival of sacrifice, the aids of clothing are carried out to put a smile on the orphans’ faces.

THE PERIOD OF ORPHAN WORKS

IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation supports orphans by regular and periodical assistances.

Periodical Assistances

It is lump aid made in certain times such as every third, fourth, sixth month or every year for the regions in need; Aids in Ramadan, Eid al Adha and Orphan Solidarity days; assistance for education, health, food, shelter etc., take part in the category of periodical assistance.

Regular Assistance

It is the assistance made under Orphan Sponsorship Support System. This system provides opportunity to donate regularly every month for educational, health, food and shelter expenditures.

Orphan Sponsorship Support System: This system aims to protect orphans in financial terms by regular aids every month and provides their educational, health, sheltering, noutrition and clothing needs. Any individual, group, institution, school or class can support an orphan by donating regularly 125 TL every month for at least one-year duration by this system.

How to Be a Sponsor

People and foundations who want to support orphans through IHH should follow the steps below:

  1. Fill the Orphan Sponsorship application form at https://www.ihh.org.tr/donate/orphan or call +90 631 21 21 IHH call center. You can select the orphan’s country and region you wish to support from the 53 countries included in IHH’s Orphan Sponsorship Support System.
  2. The sponsorship donation at 125 TL can be transferred to IHH’s bank account, postal checking account or can be given by hand by visiting IHH. Ensure that “Yetim Sponsorluk Bağışıdır” sentence is written in the description section with your name. (The same name of the person who filled the application form must be used during the payment process of the sponsorship cost.)
  3. After the sponsorship is initiated, your sponsored orphan’s photo/s and information, such as name, country, age, and family status will be sent to the email that you in the application form.

Project Sponsorship

Construction and modification of orphanages and houses, construction of medical centers, decoration of shelters, provision of furniture and other needs for schools, medical services and project-based projects are carried out for orphans with the sponsorship of people, foundations and organizations. The executed projects contribute to elevate orphan’s living conditions.

Orphan Aid Fund

All orphan-related aids other than Orphan Sponsorship Support System and Project Sponsorship are collected under the Orphan Aid Fund. Regardless of the amount, all contributions that are made for orphans are included in the Orphan Aid Fund and are used for modification of orphanages, construction of libraries and bedrooms for orphanages, holiday clothes, medical services, social events for orphans and similar projects.

ORPHANAGE WORKS

Without taking orphan children out of their homeland and culture, IHH aims to raise the orphan children as mentally, spiritually and physically healthy individuals, and in accordance of this purpose it has been running 36 different orphanages, 1 Orphan Life Center and 1 Orphan Education in 14 different countries.

IHH began its first orphanage work with the MSAL (Muhammadan School of Advanced Learning) Orphanage in Pakistan in 2003. The first residents of the orphanage where orphan girls sheltered in warm home environment for 15 years are continuing their university education today. While renovation and furnishing of orphanages in service are regularly conducted, it is also paid special importance to provide a peaceful home environment for orphan children.

The orphanages and life centers launched by IHH

  • MSAL Orphanage (Pakistan, 2003)
  • İstanbul Baba Murat Korkmaz Orphanage (Indonesia/Aceh, 2006)
  • Daru’l-Iman Orphanage (Bangladesh-Arakan Refugee Camp, 2009)
  • Togra Orphanage (Bangladesh, 2009)
  • Rara Educational Complex Orphanage (Pakistan, 2009)
  • Hacı Şerefoğlu Orphanage (Philippines/Moro, 2010)                     
  • Bursa Emir Sultan Orphanage (Pakistan, 2011)      
  • Konya İHH Orphanage (Thailand/Patani, 2011)     
  • Şifa Orphanage (Thailand/Patani, 2011)
  • İstanbul-Kâbul Brotherhood Orphanage (Afghanistan, 2013)
  • Babu’l-Amman Orphanage (Bangladesh, 2013)
  • Darussaadet/Fatih Sultan Mehmet Orphanage (Bangladesh, 2013)
  • Sargoda Orphanage (Pakistan, 2013)
  • Anadolu Orphan Complex (Somali, 2013)
  • Miyase Danış Orphanage (Thailand/Patani 2013)
  • Şifa Orphanage (Burkina Faso, 2014)
  • Sultan Abdulhamit Han Orphanage (Bangladesh, 2014)
  • Daru’l-Arkam Orphanage (Pakistan, 2014)
  • Yaşar Zerdali Orphanage (Thailand/Patani, 2014)
  • Furkan Emre Kesik Orphanage (Thailand/Patani, 2014)
  • Ali Ramazan and Hatice Üstünsoy Orphanage (Nepal, 2014)
  • Barbaros Orphan Educational Center (Ethiopia, 2014)
  • Muzaffergarh Orphanage (Pakistan, 2015)
  • İzmir Bahattin Yıldız Orphanage (Bangladesh, 2015)
  • Uğur Süleyman Söylemez Orphanage (Philippines/Moro, 2015)
  • Gilgit Orphanage (Pakistan, 2015)
  • İtfaiyeciler Orphanage (Thailand/Patani, 2015)
  • Ferah Orphanage (Uganda, 2015)
  • Esma Biltaci Orphanage (Bangladesh, 2016)
  • Muhammed Enes Orphanage (Bangladesh, 2016)
  • Bursa İnegöl Orphanage (Bangladesh, 2016)
  • Furkan Doğan Orphanage (Thailand/Patani, 2016)
  • The RAF-IHH Child’s Life Center (Turkey/Hatay, Reyhanlı, 2017)
  • İyilikhane Orphanage (Banglandeş/Khulna, 2018)
  • İsmail and Elif Şen Islam Brotherhood Orphan Educational Complex (Sierra Leone/Freetown, 2018)
  • İskilipli Atıf Hoca Orphanage (Patani, 2018)
  • Haticetu’l-Kübra Girl’s Orphanage (Moro, 2016)
  • Akıncılar Orphanage (Moro, 2016)

    The orphanages under construction in 2019
  • Anatolia Orphan Educational Center for Girls (Somalia/Mogadishu, 2015)
  • Kâmil Türk Orphanage (Pakistan/Haripur, 2015)
     

ENDNOTES


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