mercredi 25 juin 2008

Iraqis, still in the darkness, looking around, confused... by Faiza al-Arji

Painting by Iraqi Artist ALI TALIB - Crying Mesopotamia

Faiza Al-Arji is an Iraqi Engineer, she has been blogging from Iraq since 2003. Like millions of Iraqis she has been forced to leave her beloved country and is now living in Jordan, where she is trying to help the poor, destitute and forgotten Iraqi refugees.

This is what she wrote on June 20, 2008:

Iraqis, still in the darkness, looking around, confused...

Peace be upon you…I don't know why sometimes the disturbing news pile upon me, unsettling my mood. I long very much for Baghdad; I wish I can book a one-way ticket to her, tear up my passport, and remain to live and work there, till death comes to claim me….By God I am tired of being away, from the hard daily work, from seeing the anguish of the Iraqis here everyday, and I cannot help everybody…I mean; if it was a matter of 50 or a 100 Dinnars, I can help, but thousands of Dinnars are needed for treatment of children, men, and women; and this I cannot provide, after some organizations here abandoned us; organizations that used to give free medical treatment or cover the cost of some operations.

But now the UNHCR is announcing frankly in its monthly meetings with the organizations working with it, that the financing has stopped for any projects concerning the Iraqi refugees.And no one knows the reason why?

Is it a political pressure by America against the Humanitarian organizations, so they would pull out their hands from Iraq? To force the Iraqis into what is called- the voluntary return to their homeland, despite the lack of sufficient security and settlement till now.

The Iraqi Prime Minster, Noori Al-Maliki, came to Amman a week ago, and held a news conference in a grand hotel in Amman. I heard the news from a journalist and the reporter of an Iraqi satellite station who interviewed me last week, to speak about the Iraqis' suffering in Jordan. They both said, separately, that the Iraqi Prime Minster asked for the return of the Iraqis from Jordan to Iraq, saying that the government is prepared to give ID. (1,000,000) to each family, something equal to about US$ (800).

The Iraqi families denounce this talk when they hear it; they do not like it. They say- how do we go back to the state of no security? No water supply, no electricity, and no jobs? What would the $ (800) do for us? We sold our houses, we emigrated from Iraq, and now we have nothing there. This sum of money would pay the rent of an empty house for a few months, then what? What shall we eat, what shall we drink? How shall we mange our lives there? From here we call our kin and relatives inside Iraq, and they say to us- Do not come back! If the life there was better, they would have advised us to return…..

We want a real commitment from the government, to ensure the return of the displaced inside Iraq to their houses and their areas, to provide security, services, and jobs for them, so they can have a decent life in their homeland.

And how can the government ask the Iraqis in Jordan, Syria and Egypt to return to Iraq, while it hasn’t solved the problem of the internally displaced?

How can we believe that the situation has improved?
If those displaced inside Iraq returned to their towns and their conditions settled, now that would be a positive indication to the government's credibility, and the Iraqis living in the neighboring countries will return when they see positive encouraging results on the ground… but now, even with all the suffering and the anguish, we do not think of going back; a least here there is security, water, and electricity…
And I also talk about some families I met here, who are waiting to be re-settled; some of them see this as a temporary solution until Iraq gets back to the state of security and settlement, while others despaired of the improvement in Iraq's conditions, but they all say- our eyes and hearts will keep on watching Iraq, and we will get back as soon as things get better; we do not believe there is a country anywhere more beautiful than Iraq….
I am amazed by the Iraqis' love of Iraq… When I sit with them, every person and every family, in separate meetings, no one knows about the other, but there is one common theme pulsing in their hearts, as if they have all agreed upon it among them…Praise to God… Muslim, Christian, Baptist or Yazeedi, they all say the same words, complain about the same wound… Praise to God who united us on the land of Iraq, to the love of Iraq, and the grief about what happened to it…And this amazing mixture of people lived together for thousands of years, they had an old, deep, common civilization since the dawn of history.

………. Many religions and various cultures lived on the land of Iraq, forming this beautiful mixture of people, who got accustomed to living together through the sweet and the bitter… wars, sanction, hunger, poverty and deprivation, until the last war came in 2003; which dedicated the ripping and tearing of this social, cultural and religious fabric, a fabric that survived for thousands of years in a tight solidity from the roots…

Iraq is going now through one of the worst experience in Iraq's life; a big dilemma that will either break it completely, or, Iraq might emerge from it strong, like the phoenix of the mythology, that will rise from the ashes every time; strong, soaring, like it is created all anew. And that is exactly what I hope will happen one day….

The agonies of the families here are countless… poverty, hunger and deprivation; by lack of finances, lack of food and medical services, patients who come from Iraq with diseases, most of which are cancerous, and the costs of treatment here are disastrous in private hospitals. These people suffer from the shortage of finances to cover the treatment costs, and I personally feel that with them I have lost some face; as I sent e-mails or phone calls asking for financial aid to cover treatment costs for this and that. And then I hear news about some Iraqis who drown themselves in nightclubs, dancing, drinking, and corruption, spending thousands of dollars every night on such silly matters, and say to my self: So; God is our aid, and He is enough.What is happening to the world? Are we passing a phase of losing noble values and an absence of conscience? Where did this hard-heartedness and indifference come from?I do not know…
Sometimes I imagine the world is closing down on me, and my chest tightens…. I wish I can find a forest or an island in a far-off ocean to live in, and forget about these tiring creatures called- humans; I no longer have common points with them…. But my sorrow for the poor and the needy prevents me from running away, forcing me into the commitment to remain and help them; knocking on all doors, not to abandon them…
By day, I am busy working, busy with reports, receipts of the project, and telephone calls with different branches to make sure how the project is going on. I get home very exhausted, with no mood to talk about any subject…And by night I lie in my bed and think with myself:Um Mohammed came from Basra with her 26-year-old son, he has a tumor in the neck; an advanced case of tissue cancer. She suffered here and we suffered with her, while we searched for a donor to cover the costs of the chemical treatment, the x-rays, the chemical analysis, and the examinations.

Um Mohammed's father in law came from Baghdad a week ago; he has a gland in the liver that needs to be removed, the operation requires thousands of dollars, of which they do not own even one, and I don't, either. I don't know; maybe he'll die waiting for a donation.Um Ahmed's husband was kidnapped at his front door, 3 years and 3 months ago, he is possibly in an Iraqi-government's prison; I seek someone to help us locate him…A blind old man's family went back to Baghdad and left him alone. I help him monthly to pay the house rent, but I know that his wife and daughters there in Baghdad suffer hunger and poverty; I cannot help them, I do not have super financial means to cover the expenses of all the needy…Um Salam, a widow with four small children, the elder is no more than 12 years old. How will she raise them?

And life here is like an inferno, because of the high prices; she awaits the approval for re-settlement, but she doubts they will agree to her request, because her husband and her brothers used to work at the Iraqi Interior Ministry in Saddam's time…Isn't there any pure- humanity, for the sake of God? Must politics always interfere to spoil everything? What harm did this woman and her children do?

There is a number of Iraqi women who are alone without families; whose husbands or families were killed and they remained alone, waiting to be re-settled. They face improper advances and molestation by this and that, looking towards a life more dignified and more settled, in some spot in this world. At work, I daily receive women who were beaten and treated cruelly by their husbands. Poverty is the reason in most cases; or the frustration that befalls the man because of poverty and unemployment; they turn him into a wild, cruel, and aggressive creature. This is what happens to some Iraqi families here; the conditions of displacement, poverty, estrangement and degradation all put pressure on the men and the women and increase the rate of family violence…Some women also come to complain about their husband's bad manners, being alcoholics, beating wives and children, or molesting their daughters. God help us; He is our aid, and He is enough…

Are these the signs for the end of time, of the dooms day? That the world has lost its mind, its ethics, its mercy, justice, and all its beautiful features?I, personally, am tired, but I didn't lose hope that some people still exist in this world who form a beautiful face to it…They are a minority, no doubt, but they still exist……… perhaps one in every thousand….And thank God for every thing… We ask Him to support us, give us strength, and help us to do what He would be satisfied with, on this earth…Amen……And I still wish to find a forest or an island to escape to sometimes, so my soul would rest from the burden of thinking of all these disasters every day........
# posted by Faiza Al-Arji @ 8:32 PM
Friday, June 20, 2008

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