Sunday, 14 November 2010

An Iraqi refugee shares her story

This afternoon I went to hear a talk about Iraq from Dr Alkzayer, who is one of 4m Iraqi refugees; not many in Japan. Was 4th yr med student Mosul at start of Desert Storm 1991. Nearly 2m in surrounding nations, 2m more internally displaced (of a total population estimated at about 30m). 5% of the pop. is Christian.

Worked as doctor 1993-2000 on $3/month. Set up 1st pediactric oncology practice in Mosul on graduating as pediatric oncologist.

US Army occupied her hospital in 2004, forcing her to move the unit for sake of her cancer patients, having to recruit new staff who could not relocate due to the danger.
Experienced 3 bombings and was shot at in her house 3 times, and as a Christian doctor received 4 death threats on her mobile. Was at the top of a hit list of doctors the terrorists intended to murder.

Her brothers, also Christian, had death threats; one a refugee in Syria now. Her driver shot & his son killed.
7/10/2008 Christians warned on loudspeakers to leave Mosul or be killed. 2,000 families left that night; she came to Japan.

The attack on a church 31/10/2010 killed 50, injured 76. One of the two priests who died was her relative. Gruesome pictures; distant background TV news for me comes a lot more poignant. In 2009 she came to Japan with her brother after chance meeting with person from JICA.

Horrific images of cancer cases from her wards at Ibn Al Athir hospital, with huge jump in cases over her 8 years there: depleted uranium suggested as a very obvious candidate for the cause. Majority of victims appear to have been children. Sourced a lot of her specialist drugs from Japan thru NGOs JIM-NET (Japan-Iraq Medical Network) & JCF (Japan Chernobyl Foundation). Claims 80% recovery rate in patients there. JICA supporting her research now on Genetics of Cancer in Children & very grateful of Japanese support. She is extremely grateful to the Japanese for their support of her medical endeavours in Mosul & for providing her & her relatives safe haven now.

Q/A she says one day they woke up with no government & that American attack in Hussein was not planned; I think the war was well-planned but nothing to deal with the consequences. She says the Americans did so much more for religious conflict & instability than ever Saddam managed - all pretty harmonious until he was removed. In attacking Iraq & creating the current climate, US has piled a lot of wood on a bonfire for Al Qaeda to light. Christians & non-Muslims throughout Middle-East now in danger of attack for their beliefs/lack of Muslim faith.

A smiling Saddam Hussein sitting easily on a g...Image via Wikipedia
Does not see how she can return to Iraq, though she really would like to, because of the recent & increasing sectarian violence. However, she will go back to Iraq &die after her PhD is complete in two years time.

Ex-Honda employee (Hiyoki?) spent 2 months in Iraq & 3.5 years in Saudi 34 years ago & comments on beauty of the place. Dr Alkzayer says that changed 1991, but with invasion 2003 of ground troops whole situation turned upside down.

Was Saddam good? For Shia he was not good news. His domestic policies apparently good, but his foreign policy was disastrous. Christians were safe under Saddam. For 5 years she lived in Baghdad cheek by jowl with Sunni & Shia Muslims very peacefully. Now being murdered even in their place of worship (as Shia are also targeted by predominantly Sunni Al Qaeda). Kurds obviously not safe under Saddam, nor are they safe from Al Qaeda despite being Sunni.

My fault for inaccuracies in this article; written during her slideshow & Japanese interpretation - bit hard to catch every detail. I would like to hear more from this very dedicated & brave woman.