American Forces Press Service
June 20, 2007 – U.S. and Iraqi army forces found an orphanage housing 24 severely malnourished and abused boys in Baghdad's Fajr neighborhood June 10, military officials reported today. The 24 boys, ranging in age from 3 to 15, were found naked in a darkened room without any windows. Many of the children were tied to their beds and were too weak to stand, officials said.
In a nearby locked room, the soldiers discovered food and clothing that could have been used to aid the children. Three women claiming to be the caretakers, and two men -- the orphanage director and a guard -- were on the site when the soldiers arrived.
The Iraqi soldiers notified members of the Fajr Neighborhood Advisory Council and escorted them to the orphanage to assist the boys. Paratroopers from Company B, 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, and a 492nd Civil Affairs Team also arrived at the orphanage with medics to treat the malnourished boys.
"The council members were crying at the sight of the starving boys," said Navy Lt. James Cook, a civil affairs officer. The neighborhood council arranged for three ambulances to take the boys to the Iskan Hospital for care.
"We're very grateful that this story unfolded the way that it did -- that none of these 24 boys lost their lives. This is a story of partnership, courageous action and compassion overcoming deplorable negligence," said Army Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, Multinational Division Baghdad's deputy commanding general.
"The role of the Iraqi soldiers and the community council was a key to this action being taken to save these young boys," Brooks said. "We're very fortunate to have the kind of soldiers we have who are willing to take action, even at personal risk, to save the lives of others. These soldiers in a literal and figurative sense are the best chance for Iraq, just as they were for these boys."
(From a Multinational Corps Iraq news release.)