"We jumped into our cars leaving everything behind us"
Ali is 65 years old. He is currently living in the governorate of Dohuk with 24 other members of his family. Three years ago he had a stroke which left him with severely reduced mobility in his left leg. He therefore finds it difficult to get about and to perform certain day-to-day tasks. With support from Handicap International, Ali has seen his mobility improve.
Ali (right) with members of his family meeting one of Handicap International's case workers. | © Sarah Pierre / Handicap International
Last August, Ali and his family fled the fighting in Iraq to seek refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan:"We came in a convey of cars and I covered the cost of the trip," explains Ali.
After first taking shelter in a building that was still under construction, the 25 members of this Iraqi family are now renting a house. "I prefer living in a house. We have to pay the rent but at least we have proper accomodation and are out of the cold," continues the former livestock trader. The needs of the family and the rent of 200 euros are covered by Ali's two sons. "Hassan and Hussein work as day labourers on construction sites. But when it rains or snows the building work stops," explains the father of four.
For the last three years Ali has not been able to get about as he would like. The mobility in his left leg was severely reduced after he suffered a stroke. Handicap International has provided him with a new walking stick, in order to help him move around more easily. He has also received specific equipment adapted to his needs, including a commode chair. The association’s teams have also provided the family with blankets to help them cope with the winter cold. In the governorate of Dohuk temperatures frequently drop below zero during the winter months.
Ali and his family have also attended an awareness-raising session on the risks of mines and other explosive devices with a view to preparing them for their future return home. Indeed, Iraq is one of the most highly contaminated countries in the world with 1,730 km² of land estimated to be contaminated in 13 provinces in the country. In Iraqi Kurdistan, the association’s teams have launched awareness-raising activities amongst displaced people and refugees in the form of both group and individual sessions.
For the moment, Ali’s ten grandchildren cannot attend school, due to the lack of places. Hassan, his son, hopes that the whole family will soon be able to return home.