SUFFERANCE: Iraqi Victims of War

SUFFERANCE

Iraqi Victims of War

“Enduring hardship for what else shall we do?”

by Kloie Picot

(This photo essay is part of an ongoing project I started in July 2008 photographing and documenting the lives of Iraqi refugees in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.)

Kidnap, murder, soldier, explosion, army, militia, ambush car; these words are the pattern of vernacular of Iraqi children and their parents in the mayhem of Iraq.

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SUFFERANCE

 

Iraqi Victims of War

“Enduring hardship for what else shall we do?”

 

by Kloie Picot

 

(This photo essay is part of an ongoing project I started in July 2008 photographing and documenting the lives of Iraqi refugees in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.)

Kidnap, murder, soldier, explosion, army, militia, ambush car; these words are the pattern of vernacular of Iraqi children and their parents in the mayhem of Iraq.

Iraqis kidnapped and tortured, or wounded by car bombs, missiles and mortars, often exacerbated by improper medical care and severe infections, bear their wounds of war with determination and a patient shrug; for today in Baghdad, Sadr City, Anbar, Basra, Karbala, Kirkurt, Najaf, Diyala Sulaymaniyah, Qadisiyah, Babil, Dahuk, Arbil, Tam’mim, Salah ad Din; sufferance is the badge of all their tribe. In other words who are you going to complain to when everyone is facing the same situation.

In Iraq, the tens of thousands of war victims are faced with endless, often insurmountable obstacles to get even basic medical attention. After years of conflict, the Iraqi health-care system is overwhelmed by the constant influx of wounded patients who flood the hospital on a daily basis. Many doctors have been murdered and because of the violence, threats and kidnappings, those who can leave the country have done so, and are either refugees or have been able to resettle in the west. The remaining ones must tend to the most urgent, life-threatening cases first.

The people featured in this photo essay have all fled Iraq, some specifically for medical attention (and when lucky have been accepted into the medical treatment program sponsored by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF)), and some because of threats and persecution. Many of those fleeing to neighboring Jordan, Syria and Lebanon have been kidnapped, tortured, their houses taken over, their churches attacked, their businesses robbed, and their lives forever changed.

Though Iraqis are not strangers to war and conflict, they have never been refugees. The majority of those who have fled Iraq and can afford to wait out the conflict in Arab neighboring countries, while waiting for asylum to a 3rd country, are educated, held well paying jobs, or owned their own business and lived in relative comfort. Many have nothing to return to in Iraq, they have lost their homes, jobs, and livelihood. Their physical deformities will brand them for life. As for the young girls featured in this essay, who will take care of them as they grow into marrying age? Will they find work, will they be able to survive the stigma of being victims of war. And so the refugee waits, day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year for that call that signals they have been selected to be resettled into the very country that caused them to have to endure their hardships so patiently.

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A young Iraqi child severely wounded when a bomb exploded in a market in Baghdad. She suffers burns all over her body. August 2008.

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Haneen is 10 years old. In 2006 a car exploded near her house causing severe burns to her back, shoulder and arm. She was initially treated in Iraq but the severity of her wounds allowed her sponsorship in the MSF program for plastic surgery in Amman, Jordan. September 2008.

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An Iraqi girl shows the photo of her brother who was kidnapped, tortured and killed in Iraq. Her family was repeatedly threatened and finally left Iraq in June, 2008. Her father was also shot; he survived but is physically and mentally handicapped. She now begs for food and money and lives with her mother, father and younger brother in the Saida Zainab district of Damascus, Syria. September 2008.

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Hanan is a quiet and sincere 13 years old who suffered serious burns to her chest and neck area from an explosion when a suicide bomber blew himself up in Al Nafaf. She now receives plastic surgery in Amman, Jordan in a program sponsored by MSF. September 2008.

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Ghaniyah (not real name) standing next to her father, was with her grandmother shopping in a market in Baghdad when a bomb exploded, killing her grandmother, and injuring her. She suffers wounds to her face and receives plastic surgery from a program sponsored by MSF in Amman, Jordan. September 2008.

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"J" was at work in Basra when her office was bombed by American forces. She suffers burns to her chest, arm and legs. She was married, but after suffering such severe wounds, her husband of 4 years divorced her.

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A patient at the Red Crescent Hospital in Amman Jordan.

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Seven year old "M", survived a bombing in Iraq, but lost one leg, the other severely burned. She is now undergoing surgeries in Amman, Jordan.

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Hanna Hadi is a typical outspoken, fun loving 13 years old except that she suffers serious burns on her face, head, and body from a suicide bombing in 2004 in Al-Nafaf, Iraq. Hanna initially received treatment in Iraq, but after repeated surgeries she was still unable to eat properly, see, or breath. A doctor in Iraq recommended Hanna be accepted in the MSF program in Amman, Jordan. She has lived in the Kasser Jeddha Hotel for a year and has had several maxillofacial as well as plastic surgeries. She will undergo more plastic surgeries in hopes of gaining a resemblance to the young beautiful girl she once was, before returning to Iraq. September 2008.

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"N" is from Kirkurk, an Iraqi suicide bomber detonated prematurely outside a Kirkuk police station, his jaw was broken and he suffers burns to his body. KP_Sufferance_11.jpg Mohammed was severely wounded suffering burns to his face, body, sustaining a broken hand and fingers when insurgents used a rocket, a car bomb, a suicide bomber on a motorcycle and two other devices to attack the Zafaraniya neighbourhood of southeastern Baghdad. 57 people were killed, and almost 150 wounded.

KP_Sufferance_12.jpg Somaya is 7 years old and from Nasereya, Iraq. She suffers from facial burns and broken bones, caused by an ambush car, which exploded near her home. The wounds lead to facial infections because of inadequate treatment in Iraq. Somaya now receives maxillofacial and plastic surgery medical treatment in Amman, Jordan through MSF. September 2008. KP_Sufferance_13.jpg An Iraqi refugee "K" shows the kind of tool members of one of the many mafia militias in Basra used on him in a "revenge torture". He was kidnapped and tortured because when he worked for the Engineering ministry he found out that one of his co-workers in the parts department was selling company merchandise. "K" told his boss, the spare parts guy ran away. Three years later, that man surfaced as the head of the mafia militia that tortured him for 3 days.

KP_Sufferance_14.jpg An Iraqi Christian from Baghdad was intimidated and beaten by one of the mafia militias operating in Baghdad. Thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee Iraq. KP_Sufferance_15.jpg An Iraq Christian woman shows the photo of her husband who was kidnapped and killed by one of the mafia militias in Iraq. Although the family paid the ransom he was killed.

KP_Sufferance_16.jpg An Iraqi refugee shows the wounds sustained after being beaten and tortured by one of the mafia militias. He now receives medical treatment in Amman, Jordan. Although the patients are not allowed to apply for refugee status while being sponsored by MSF, many still try. KP_Sufferance_17.jpg Iraqi man who lost his leg in a suicide bombing targeting a police station in northern province of Salahuddin. At least 27 Iraqis were killed and about 40 others wounded.

KP_Sufferance_18.jpg Sara an Armenia Christian Iraqi refugee living in a suburb of Damascus Syria holds her child who is suffering from Cerebral Palsy. Her daughters condition has gotten progressively worse in the 2 years they have spent as refugees in Syria.

KP_Sufferance_19.jpg Ali an Iraqi refugee and his son in their home in Beirut, Lebanon. Ali a Shiite is married to Fatima a Sunni. After the fall of the Baath party and Saddams regime, civil war broke out between Sunni and Shia. Inter religious families have been torn apart. Fatimas brothers insisted she divorce Ali, when she refused they threatened to kill him. Consequently they fled Iraq.

KP_Sufferance_20.jpg Cigarette burns covered his body, this is his hand, tortured for 3 days, 2 years later, the lasting effects.

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