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The human cost of US wars post 9/11

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Afghan Children and Malnutrition (Via AFP)

On September 11th 2001, a series of terrorist attacks targeted the United States. On that morning, a group of terrorists hijacked four commercial airliners. The hijackers crashed the first two planes into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City.

The third plane succeeded in crashing into the Pentagon, but the fourth one crashed in rural Pennsylvania.

Washington used the attacks to launch the so called 'Global War on Terror'.

They are obsessed with fueling conflict because they profit from the bloodshed, the turmoil, the tension, and, the diplomatic unease.

A lot of money is transferred into the bureaucracies of the military, the intelligence community, the diplomatic community, the military industrial complex, the war profiteers who make bullets, bombs, tanks, helicopters, guns

Washington first invaded Afghanistan, and then attacked Iraq. A number of other countries were also affected by the wars.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed; 7000 by the US in the first month of the war, but now, hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed by all parties over the 20 years.

And that's, in part, because Iraq descended into civil war shortly after the US invasion, and then in addition, many millions of people were displaced.

Millions of people are still displaced internally and also as refugees in the region.

Neta Crawford, Cost of War Project, Coordinator

The military aggressions were devastating for the affected countries and killed countless people. A research paper by Brown University's Costs of War Project has now shed light on the human cost of US wars in the region.

The report reveals that America's War on Terror in the war zones of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, and, Yemen, killed at least 4.5 to 4.6 million people, however, the exact figure remains unknown.

This study reviews a wide range of factors contributing to mortality including economic collapse and the resulting loss of livelihood for local residents, the destruction of health infrastructure, of public services, environmental contamination, as well as other cultural effects of war, which can lead to further violence over time.

Some of these people were killed in the fighting, but far more, especially children, have been killed by the reverberating effects of war, such the spread of diseases.

The report elucidates that these latter indirect deaths are estimated to stand at around 3.7 million, clarifying that these deaths and related health problems have resulted from the destruction of economies, public services, and, the environment, in the affected countries.

The report has also highlighted the fact that indirect deaths grow in scale over time, the research has found staggering levels of child malnutrition in some of the affected countries with Afghanistan and Yemen topping the list.

In the wake of Washington's two decade military occupation, more than 3 million Afghan children are now experiencing wasting, a symptom of severe, and potentially life threatening, malnutrition.

The US officially ended its war in Afghanistan, but today Afghans are suffering and dying from war related causes at higher rates than ever.

Afghanistan's economy has collapsed and over half of the population now lives in extreme poverty on less than $1.90 per day. More than 7.6 million children under five are suffering from acute malnutrition or wasting in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Somalia.

Wasting means simply means not getting enough food, literally wasting away to skin and bones, putting these children at greater risk of death.

Diseases, such as measles and cholera, often sicken malnourished people, particularly children, and at the same time exacerbate malnutrition.

And then what we also see is it even in the places where the fighting has stopped civilians and other people like health care workers have been injured by unexploded ordnance which has been left in the wake of the war.

So the story continues. It's not over. It wasn't quick. It wasn't easy. And it certainly wasn't cost free.

Neta Crawford, Cost of War Project, Coordinator

Hunger crises are precipitated by wars, destruction of economies, and, the impoverishment of millions in the war zones.

Poverty lessens people's abilities to buy food stay, in their home communities, access clean water and sanitation, pay for health care and medicine, and keep children away from hazardous jobs, and other essential pathways to preserving health and life.

Explosive remnants of war, including unexploded mines, render land inaccessible to farm and block the transport of goods.

Generally, populations displaced by violence face some of the worst levels of food insecurity and malnutrition.

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