A Refugees Life
Life is not easy for so many people whose fate has betrayed them, twisted and taken 360 turn into misery, hopelessness, direness, desolation and gloomy future. Everyone in this lifetime is prone to become refugee-it’s all about what is written for you in the book of life. In brief, this person could have led at one time a secure, healthy happy and dignified life for him/herself and their family. However, for some sort of horrific actions, war, sectarian violence brethren hatred all can strip someone of this sheltered life into the prawns of fear and harshness and bleakness.
When you directly work with these vulnerable people, it will take its toll on you, your sanity, and it can physically exhaust you. Listening to these stories, witnessing what they have gone throw the sad, ruthless journey they took a life left behind to start new one. It all can drain the energy out of your body. Sometimes I do hate it, and excuse the hate word; I think when you are involved directly with these people -unlike those who merely read these stories over the net and paper work -here when it starts hitting you the bitchy reality of the whole thing.
I want to quote a true person someone who crossed miles away from home to come to my country-Jordan where we host an estimated 750,000- 1million Iraqi refugee. This woman’s dedication will and perseverance to help these families and live amongst them has brought new meaning to the HELP. Every day someone knocks on her door because they heard she provides assistance. It’s not easy to help everyone with high demands and with little budget this one is of many stories Collateral Repair Project in Jordan encounters and is based solely on individual donations.
“Tonight met a family with 2 kids with thelassemia (see link below). Their parents are desperate to find someone/s to pay for the kids' medication - cost is over $1000 Per Month - PER CHILD. UNHCR no longer funds thelassemia treatment for Iraqi kids. A crime. We can pour billions into wars but can't provide medical treatment to keep children alive. thelassemia treatment has been eliminated because the cost is so atrociously high and funds for aid for Iraqi refugees has plummeted. Cut-backs across the board have been made in services and support and we can anticipate more cuts next year. The Iraq "war" is old news and its' victims have never been much of a concern to most. I wager it's a hell of a lot easier to sit in some air-conditioned meeting room in nations thousands of miles from these victims and pragmatically cross out costly aid areas from a spreadsheet than it is for people like me to face-to-face tell the parents of these two kids there isn't anything we can do.
Oh there's money enough to line the gilded pockets of defence (offense) contractors and the politicians that kow-tow to them for their own pieces of the pie. Sure enough. But saving children's (or adults' for that matter) lives gets a hasty nix. And let's not forget the astounding overhead of some NGOs...there's also no way that any of their higher--paid staff and CEOs would contemplate a decrease in their glutted wages or perhaps cutting back on the number of pages in their glossy brochures and reports so that at least a few more lives can be saved. Whole thing stinks. Iraq (before sanctions imposed by the west) and this devastating invasion/occupation had the best medical system in the region and on par with Europe's and these children would have been taken care of adequately under that system. I attribute every life lost or compromised since the implementation of sanctions and throughout this occupation (and extending far into the future) to US/UK masters of war and greed.
Now does anyone have any viable ideas about how to get these two kids their treatment? The family (of 5) lives on 225JD UNHCR cash assistance per month (about $300) and even paying for taxis to get their kids to a treatment centre IF treatment was available to them is completely beyond their ability. If we can't create a solution that will save these kids' lives, then can anyone tell me what I should tell their parents?”
Hope is what they want and waiting is what they do...
by Samia Qumri in Jordan0 comments
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The Collateral Repair Project has known Thigeel , his wife, Kareema and their lovely children for a couple of years. When we are in Amman, we visit them every few months to bring the children gifts and provide assistance. as Thigeel suffers from chronic asma and lung infections and the cost of medications for him take a huge chunk out of their small UNHCR cash assistance grant.
I ran into Thigeel and his family the other night when I was walking in my neighborhood. I was surprised to see them here as they have been living in another area of Amman as long as we've known them, I asked what they were doing in Hashimi Shemali and they told us excitedly that they had just moved here - that there was too much crime in their old area and they were worried about their children. I promised we would visit them in their new home soon.
We visited on Wednesday and, after the customary kisses hello, Kareema said "We have known you since 2007 and you never forget us" - How can we, these kids are so lovely and even though they live in abject poverty, Thigeel and Kareema have always taken very good care of their kids. They proudly told us the children are all in the tops of their classes in school.
I was nearly brought to tears when Kareema asked me, "This is a much more beautiful home, isn't it?" because, it is true - this new flat, despite being incredibly run down and with plaster crumbling off its moldy walls, IS a huge improvement over their previous homes. You or I would cry if we had to move our family into this new flat and this family was proud of and so very pleased with it!
We decided to give this family a home-warming gift that will make their new place more livable and, most importantly, help with Thigeel's lung problems.
We called Ali (who was a painter by trade before he had to flee Iraq and who is CRP's unofficial handyman) and asked him to meet us there to give us an estimate to repair and paint the entire interior with mold-resistant paint! I asked Kareema what color of paint she would like and she immediately responded "White. Clean white"
We also found out that they are drinking tap water - very unsafe in Amman - and that the youngest had gotten sick from it many times. Buying small-size plastic bottles of water from the market is expensive, especially with a family of this size. We ordered 2 large bottles of water from the distributor CRP gets it's drinking water from (at only $1.40 per bottle) and made arrangements for the distributor to bring the family water when they need it.
Their new home is bare and we will also provide donated mattresses from our distribution room.
By Sasha Crow, director of the Collateral Repair Project in Jordan and you can keep up-to-date on their work by visiting their CRP-UPDATES! blog. (Editors note: if you have a blog, Facebook or Twitter account, please help spread the word!!!)
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We are thrilled to report that Seattle area donors generously contributed almost $4,000 to Collateral Repair Project. Our heartfelt thanks go to the people in the Seattle area for their kindness. These funds were raised on June 2nd at a musical fundraiser and auction was held at St. Patrick’s Church in the Capitol Hill area of Seattle.
People came from all over the region and for an enjoyable evening of song, music and fabulous desserts. Folk-singers, Jim Paige and Mark Taylor-Canfield as well as rousing singing of the Seattle Labor Chorus provided the entertainment. Our thanks go to the many talented individuals and local bakeries who provided their luscious treats for the dessert auction. We’d also like to thank individuals and local businesses who donated items and services to the silent auction Of special interest were the quilts featuring pictures drawn by Iraqi children in Amman. They were beautifully made by quilters in Vancouver, WA who generously gave of their time and effort. Mary Madsen, co-director of CRP, spoke about current projects and her recent experiences in Amman.
Funds from this event have enabled Collateral Repair Project to provide several families in need with meat and chicken, back rent for a family facing eviction, emergency room expenses and medication for a man with no money who had a medical emergency, purchase of a sewing machine for a micro-project, diapers and newborn kits for three families with newborns, purchase and for delivery of two used, good condition refrigerators, give cash assistance to families we visited who had no have no income and began monthly cash assistance to a man who has no cash assistance from UNHCR and no other means of self support.
Karen Jones, our NW Regional Volunteer Liasion and a team of just 4 people put together this event—Jean Darsie, Cobra, Ruth Williams. On site, Fred Miller of Peace Action, Rosemary Lavisor, Sonjia Tilton and Martina Boyd were invaluable in setting up for the event. Bob Morgan of Western Washington Fellowship of Reconciliation did an amazing job on the sound. “We enjoyed doing this event so much and are so happy that it was successful beyond our expectations,” said Karen. “If anyone reading this is interested in having an event or house-party for CRP, I’d be happy to speak with you and share some ideas.” To learn more about this event, auction items, co-sponsors etc, check-out http://crpseattle.pbworks.com/ . To contact Karen about having an event or house-party, email email@example.com
CRP sends our heartfelt thanks to all who made it possible to provide much needed assistance to so many Iraqi refugees.
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“Writing in a diary is a really strange experience for someone like me. Not only because I've never written anything before, but also because it seems to me that later on neither I nor anyone else will be interested in the musings of a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl“. The Diary of Anne Frank- June 20, 1942.
We are pleased to extend our deepest solidarity to the Collateral Repair Project, who are launching a lending library service... for Iraqi Refugee’s in the Kingdom of Jordan. The CRP is a grassroots NGO which is based within the country and a Library service is essential in supporting Iraqi refugee’s from falling into the trap of illiteracy.
Already there are over 90 % of Iraqi children, who have learning impediments brought on by trauma, with thousands of more young people whose education has suffered constant interruptions because of the violence and upheavals which they have experienced within Iraq.
The CRP library will provide Jordan’s Iraqi community with a central book lending service, where through donations, a regular stream of books representing all literary genre’s, can be purchased to provide this massive community with a consistent and free source of education.As part of the library service, the CRP will also be including s Book Club & Poetry Group, where budding writers and literary enthusiasts can get together and share their appreciation of the written word.
The importance of literacy for all people was once described by Leon Trotsky who stated: “to understand and perceive truly, not in a journalistic way but to feel to the very bottom, the section of time in which we live, one has to know the past of mankind, its life, its work, its struggles, its hopes, its defeats and its achievements.”“First of all, one has to know the history of mankind and the laws, the concrete facts, the picturesqueness and the personalities of contemporary life”, as the British writer Gladys Mitchell also once explained, “books contain the secrets to the world”.
So we ask you in a spirit of solidarity, to show your support to Iraqi refugee’s in Jordan and to donate what ever you can afford, to help develop the CRP library for Iraqi Refugee’s, so that education can remain an essential human right and not an exclusive privilege.
You can donate securely at this link: http://bit.ly/c8o4Jj
Email This BlogThis! Share to Twitter Share to Facebook Share to Google Buzz Medical costs leave Iraqi refugees in distress
Prohibitive healthcare costs have put almost half of all Iraqi refugees in Lebanon in urgent need of medical attention, with a “growing number” running out of resources, according to the United Nations.
The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, in its latest report on the plight of Iraqi refugees in the Middle East, found that 48 percent of displaced Iraqis in Lebanon suffered from a “critical medical condition.”
“In addition to the substantial risks of arrest, detention and refoulement, refugees and asylum-seekers in Lebanon also face daunting humanitarian challenges that the humanitarian community seeks to address,” UNCHR’s “Regional Response Plan for Iraqi Refugees” said this week.
“Living conditions in Lebanon are difficult and costly. Many refugees and asylum-seekers are extremely destitute and worry about meeting their own and their children’s very basic need for food and shelter.“The health situation of many persons of concern is precarious because health care in Lebanon is expensive and access to hospitals is difficult,” it added.
As of May 31 this year, 7,791 Iraqi refugees were registered with UNHCR in Lebanon. The overwhelming majority are single men of working age, although Lebanon’s constitution bars displaced persons from taking on all but menial jobs.
The number of Iraqi refugees is dwarfed by the more than 420,000 registered Palestinians who reside in and outside of refugee camps in Lebanon. The issue of their naturalization has been raised at a parliamentary level recently, although further discussions have been delayed by ministers.
UNHCR labeled the formation of an inter-ministerial committee on refugees as “an encouraging sign.”“The working group hopes that this will be an important first step towards remedying persistent protection gaps in the immediate and longer term,” it noted.
The organization seeks to successfully repatriate Iraqi refugees, either back at home or in a third host country. Such an operation often proves difficult, with the same domestic problems that caused refugees to flee in the first place persisting and a shortfall in funding blocking easy assimilation into adopted countries.
“Moreover, local integration is not an option as the Government of Lebanon has maintained that Lebanon cannot be a country of permanent asylum,” UNCHR said.In spite of successes in dealing with Iraqis in Lebanon – the number of whom having actually decreased since last year – several aspects of refugees’ life remain in need of immediate improvement, UNHCR said.
“Health is among the priority areas for which there is an ongoing need for resources and improvement,” it said.While a relatively small amount (7.7 percent) of registered Iraqi refugees still lacked any healthcare provisions, one fifth were receiving regular access to medical expertise by May this year.
The organization warned of new trends observed among new Iraqis, including “an increase in Iraqis arriving in Lebanon solely to access advanced tertiary services.” However, UNHCR stressed the need for improved mental health provisions for displaced Iraqis, “given that protection problems in Lebanon and restrictive resettlement criteria for some are hampering psychological recovery, mainly among victims of torture and ex-detainees.”
Although 86 percent of registered refugees girls and boys between 4 and 17 years old were enrolled in formal education systems, the drop-out rate of 12.7 percent was cause for concern, the organization said. It warned the trend of children leaving school was likely to increase if funding was not immediately forthcoming.
“In the long term, such limited funding for education is expected to increase the risk of child labor, neglect, violence and exploitation,” it said. “It has also been observed that newcomers have less interest in enrolling their children in schools while waiting for resettlement.”
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Refugees International President L. Craig Johnstone today called for a greater U.S. commitment to more than two million Iraqis who have fled their homes due to conflict and fear of persecution during seven years of U.S. engagement in Iraq.0 comments
"As the U.S. military departs Iraq it is leaving behind nearly 500,000 Iraqi refugees – mainly in Syria and Jordan – and one and a half million Iraqis who have been uprooted from their homes, many of whom live in total destitution in shanty towns of Iraq," said L. Craig Johnstone, President of Refugees International. "This is the tragic legacy of the conflict in Iraq and as the United States disengages militarily it would be unconscionable to abandon our responsibilities to these civilian victims of war."
Ambassador Johnstone testified at a Helsinki Commission hearing, "No Way Home, No Way to Escape: The Plight of Iraqi Refugees and Our Iraqi Allies." Johnstone is former Deputy UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and former U.S. Ambassador and Director for Resources, Plans and Policy in the Department of State. Recalling his own experiences in Vietnam, he called on Congress and the Administration to step up to its commitment to Iraqi refugees, as it did after the fall of Saigon.
"The United States was woefully unprepared for the collapse of South Vietnam and unfortunately the prevailing attitude bordered on callous disregard for the well being of the many Vietnamese civilians the U.S. was about to leave behind," stated Johnstone. "But as Saigon was falling, the nation mobilized with unprecedented effort, opening its arms to welcome to hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese refugees. We now face an analogous situation in Iraq, and the United States must again wake up to its responsibility – this time to the millions of Iraqi civilians displaced by the war." Johnstone asked Congress to expand the program that has resettled some 48,000 Iraqis in the Unites States, and to provide greater financial and social support for refugees struggling to rebuild their lives.
Seven years after the beginning of the war in Iraq, an unprecedented number of Iraqis are still living in squatter slums filled with open sewers and lacking water and electricity. Most of the squatter settlements are located precariously under bridges, alongside railroad tracks and amongst garbage dumps. Following visits this year to 20 different squatter settlements throughout Iraq, RI found that nearly 500,000 Iraqis are left living in squalor receiving little help from the Iraqi government, aid agencies and the United Nations.
Johnstone called on Congress and the Administration to fund at least 50 percent of the United Nations humanitarian appeals for Iraq and noted that to date it has funded only 23 percent of the some $700 million requested. "The United States must fund humanitarian efforts in proportion to its responsibility," stated Johnstone.
RI also recommended that the UN adapt its security measures so that humanitarian officials can access squatter communities regularly and provide assistance. "UN and U.S. officials need to get out of the Green Zone and work the problem where it is, in the slums, in the cardboard shelters that go without electricity or sewage systems," stated Johnstone.
In February RI staff traveled to Iraq, Jordan and Syria where they interviewed displaced people, local and national government officials and international agencies. Since November 2006, the organization has conducted eleven missions to the Middle East and has led the call to increase assistance and solutions for displaced Iraqis. To read the report, go to: http://www.refugeesinternational.org/policy/field-report/iraq-humanitari ..
Refugees International is a Washington, DC-based organization that advocates to end refugee crises and receives no government or UN funding. www.refugeesinternational.org .
Contact: Refugees International, Gabrielle Menezes
P: 202-828-0110 x225
Email This BlogThis! Share to Twitter Share to Facebook Share to Google Buzz Commandos attack Palestinian refugees
Commandos of the Iraqi Interior Ministry raided on Tuesday evening the compound of Palestinians’ Association in the Iraqi occupied capital of Baghdad.
According to the Association of Palestinians in Iraq in a press statement they issued, Iraqi forces intruded and arrested one of the Palestinians and called for a group of refugees to surrender to it.
The Iraqi commandos used live bullets while raiding his apartment, sparking panic and fear among Palestinian refugees, especially children and women, according to the statement.
The Palestinian Association compound is one of the largest Palestinian community in Iraq, and has previously been and continues being subjected to a series of raids by the troops of the Interior Iraqi ministry and the U.S. occupation army while dozens of Palestinians are languishing in Israeli, U.S. and Iraqi jails.
Following the attacks, incursions, kidnappings and killings of Palestinians thousands of Palestinian refugees were bound to leave Iraq to the desert camps, some of them are scattered in most countries of the world.
The Palestinians Association asked the Iraqi authorities to halt incursions and violations of the right of Palestinian refugees in Iraq and to improve their legal situation and living conditions, plus to release of Palestinian prisoners in Iraq, until their return to Palestine.
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At the end of next month, the US is pulling its combat troops out of Iraq. But the country they are leaving behind is still a wreck.0 comments
On June 14, an interpreter for the US Army called Hameed al-Daraji was shot dead as he was sleeping in his house in Samarra, a city 95km north of Baghdad.
In some respects there was nothing strange about the killing, since 26 Iraqi civilians were murdered in different parts of the country on the same day.
As well as working periodically for the Americans since 2003, Daraji may have recently converted to Christianity and unwisely taken to wearing a crucifix around his neck - a gesture quite enough to make him a target in the Sunni Arab heartlands.
What made Iraqis, inured to violence though they are, pay particular attention to the murder of Daraji was the identity of his killer. Arrested soon after the body was discovered, his son is reported to have confessed to the murder, explaining that his father's job and change of religion brought such shame on the family that there was no alternative to shooting him.
A second son and Daraji's nephew are also wanted for the killing and all three of the young men are alleged to have links to al Qaeda.The story illustrates the degree to which Iraq remains an extraordinarily violent place.Without the rest of the world paying much attention, some 160 Iraqis have been killed, and hundreds wounded, during the past two weeks.
Civilian casualties in Iraq are still higher than in Afghanistan, although these days the latter has a near-monopoly of media attention. But the killing of Daraji should give pause to those who imagine that the US occupation of Iraq somehow came right in its final years and that American combat troops might even care to linger on in Iraq beyond their scheduled departure date on August 31.
All remaining US troops are to be out at the end of 2011. American troops will leave behind a country that is a barely floating wreck. Baghdad feels like a city under military occupation, with horrendous traffic jams caused by the 1500 checkpoints and streets blocked off by kilometres of concrete blast walls that strangle communications within the city. The situation in Iraq is in many ways "better" than it was, but it could hardly be anything else, given that killings at their peak in 2006-2007 were running at about 3000 a month. That said, Baghdad remains one of the most dangerous cities in the world, riskier to walk around than Kabul or Kandahar.
Not everything can be blamed on the present political leadership. Iraq is recovering from 30 years of dictatorship, war and sanctions, and the recovery is grindingly slow and incomplete because the impact of the multiple disasters to strike Iraq after 1980 was so great. Saddam Hussein poured money into his self-inflicted war with Iran, leaving nothing for hospitals or schools.
Defeat by the US-led coalition in Kuwait provoked a collapse in the currency and 13 years of UN sanctions that amounted to an economic siege. Iraq has never recovered from these catastrophes.
During sanctions, the government had no money and ceased to pay its officials, who therefore charged for their services. These days, they receive good salaries but the old tradition of doing nothing without a bribe has not died away. Saturation levels of corruption render the state dysfunctional. To give a small example: one friend teaching at a university in Baghdad became pregnant and applied for a month's paid leave to have her baby, as was her right. The university administrators said she could have the leave but on condition that she handed over the month's salary to them.
What makes corruption so devastating in its effects is that it cripples the state apparatus and prevents it performing its most essential functions. In 2004-2005, for instance, the entire military procurement budget of US$1.2 billion was stolen, although this may have been explained by the chaos of the first years of the post-Saddam Iraqi state, with the Americans calling many of the shots and nobody sure who really held power.
Corruption explains much in Iraq - but it is not the only reason why it has been so difficult to create a functioning government. Saddam Hussein should not be a hard act to follow.Part of the problem is that the US invasion and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein had revolutionary consequences because it shifted power from the Sunni Arab Baathists to the 60 per cent of Iraqis who are Shia and in alliance with the Kurds.
Iraq had a new ruling class rooted in the rural Shia population and headed by former exiles with no experience of running anything.
In many ways, their idea of government is to recreate Saddam's system, only this time with the Shia in charge. It used to be said that Iraq was under the thumb of Sunni Arabs from Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's home city. These days people in Baghdad complain that a similar tight-knit gang from the Shia city of Nasiriyah surrounds the Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
In many ways, Iraq is becoming like Lebanon, its politics and society irredeemably divided by sectarian and communal loyalties.The outcome of the parliamentary election on March 7 could easily be forecast by assuming that most Iraqis would vote as Sunni, Shia or Kurds.
Government jobs are filled unofficially according to sectarian affiliation. This does give everybody a share of the cake, but the cake is too small to satisfy more than a fraction of Iraqis. Government is also weakened because ministers are representatives of some party, faction or community and cannot be dismissed because they are crooked or incompetent.
Violence may be down, but few of the two million Iraqi refugees in Jordan and Syria think it safe enough to go home. A further 1.5 million people are internally displaced persons (IDPs), forced out of their homes by sectarian pogroms in 2006 and 2007 and too frightened to return. Of these, some 500,000 people live in squatter camps which Refugees International describes as lacking "basic services, including water, sanitation and electricity, and built on precarious places - under bridges, alongside railroad tracks and amongst garbage tracks".
A worrying fact about these camps is that the number of people in them should be shrinking as sectarian warfare ebbs but, in fact, the IDP population is growing. These days refugees come to the camps not because of fear of the death squads but because of poverty, joblessness and the drought which is driving farmers off their land.
Iraq is full of people who have little left to lose and have a deep anger towards a government which they see as being run by a kleptomaniac elite gobbling up Iraq's oil revenues. As in Lebanon and Afghanistan, where disparities in wealth are also huge, class hatred and religious differences combine to exacerbate the hatred felt between and within communities.
Iraq differs from Lebanon in one crucial respect. It is an oil state with annual revenues of US$60 billion last year and with huge unexploited oil reserves, its oil exports may quadruple over the next decade under contracts signed with oil companies last year. There ought to be enough money to raise standards of living and rebuild the infrastructure after long neglect.
At first sight, oil could be the solution to Iraq's innumerable problems but, in Iraq in the past, and in other oil states, it has proved a political curse as well as an economic blessing. Countries reliant on oil and gas exports are almost invariably dictatorships or monarchies. Control of oil revenues, not popular support, appears to rulers to be the source of their power. If there is opposition, then oil wealth enables leaders to build up and pay for security forces to crush it.
No other country needs carefully calculated compromise between communities and parties more than Iraq, but oil may tempt the governments to rely on force. This is what happened to Saddam Hussein, who would never have had the strength to invade Iran or Kuwait without Iraq's oil wealth. The same thing may happen again: an over-mighty - yet corrupt and incompetent - state may try to crush its opponents rather than conciliate them. Oil alone will not stabilise Iraq.
By Patrick Cockburn
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