Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative

The Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative (ICSSI) is dedicated to bringing together Iraqi and international civil societies through concrete actions to build together another Iraq, with peace and Human Rights for all.

When austerity cuts in Italy hurt an Iraqi girl in Baghdad


Riam is a 7-year-old girl living in Baghdad with her family. She was born with a severe malformation to her face. This angioma disfigured her and threatened to make her blind.

However tragic, Riam’s story is commonplace in Iraq. So many children are born with malformations, in many cases serious and life threatening. Studies have revealed how the weapons and munitions used by the coalition forces, in particular the United States and Great Britain, have long-lasting effects on the health of the population in many places all around Iraq (see for instance this report from Pax Christi Netherlands: “In a state of uncertainty” about the impact of depleted uranium in Iraq – ).

Moreover the Iraqi health system has been greatly weakened by thirty years of wars and sanctions and is struggling to provide health care to the Iraqi public. Many skilled health workers have left the country and access to health services is problematic. (see this article from The Lancet from last March for more details: ).

Riam goes to Italy

The Italian NGO Un ponte per… has been working in Iraq since 1991: campaigning against the wars and the embargo, carrying out cooperation projects to help the Iraqi population, managing human rights projects and cultural cooperation, and working to empower Iraqi associations and unions with the Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative.

It is through this solidarity work that Un Ponte Per… first learned about Riam, who is the daughter of an employee of the Baghdad National Library, where the Italian NGO is carrying cooperation project to protect Iraq’s cultural heritage.

A mini-humanitarian project was developed to bring Riam to Rome, with the support of Italian citizens and of a regional public fund for humanitarian aid. And Riam bravely underwent three complex maxillofacial operations in February 2011, September 2011 and September 2012. Her sight was saved.

Austerity against solidarity

But now Riam needs another operation to continue her treatment.

And the humanitarian fund has been slashed as part of the austerity cuts in Italy!

Riam’s treatment must continue, and Un Ponte Per… needs help to cover the hospital bill.

Support Riam through this crowd-funding campaign: