Arlene Flaherty is a Dominican Sister of Blauvelt, New York, who currently serves on the community's Iraq Coordinating Committee and is Director of the Office of Justice and Peace and Integrity of creation for the Atlantic Midwest Province of the School Sisters of Notre Dame. In 1999 she documented the damaging impact of the policy of sanctions and embargo on Iraqi children and presented those findings to the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva, Switzerland. She has traveled in Syria and Lebanon, documenting the reality of Iraqi refugees who have been displaced by war.
As our U.S. Dominican Sisters Delegation to Iraq moved from one refugee camp to another in Kurdistan-Iraq, children seemed to be everywhere! It’s not surprising, since over half of the 4 million Iraqis who have been displaced by years of war and recent attacks by ISIS/L, are children. I wondered: How can we, members of the global community, help shape the future of Iraq by advocating for the rights of the Iraqi children now?
Almost a year ago, three U.S. Dominican Sisters journeyed to Iraq to visit the Iraqi Dominican community and the Iraqi people displaced by war and terrorism. Here are some of their thoughts before they set out.