Many families scrape by on a monthly stipend of less than $50, provided by the local church. A number of international relief organizations also assist the displaced. But according to Mr. Petros, corrupt officials all too often embezzle the aid channeled through some of these organizations.
They dont give the money properly to the people, he says. They use it to embarrass them; they use it to buy them out during elections. (CNEWA provides support through the local churches.)
Thirty-five-year-old Karan Jalal Abdul-Ahad and his family moved to Hamdaniya from Baghdad in 2007. For years, he and his family lived in fear, dodging the sectarian violence that engulfed the capital. He once witnessed henchmen dump a pile of maimed bodies on a street corner. Yet, he refused to leave — that is, until the day he started receiving death threats. Knowing his days were numbered, he made the hard decision to pack whatever his family could carry and head north.
Though relieved to find safety in Hamdaniya, he did not take well to his new surroundings.
In the beginning when I came here, I was too depressed to go out, he says. Proficient in English, he landed a job in a pharmacy that needs employees who can understand the English labels on medications.
I still miss Baghdad. But, I will never go back, he continues. My parents both died here and are buried here. Hamdaniya is now my town. This is my world. This is my life.
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Iraqi journalist Namo Abdulla reports on events in Iraq for The New York Times.
Tags: Iraq Violence against Christians Iraqi Christians Sunni Assyrian Church