IRAQ: Marwan Hussein, Iraq “I sell half of our monthly food ration to raise money to flee”
Marwan Hussein, 31, is an unemployed displaced father who has resorted to selling half his monthly food rations to make money to flee Iraq
BAGHDAD, 21 March 2007 (IRIN) - Marwan Hussein is a 31-year-old unemployed father of two - Hala, 5, and Yehia, 7 - who is internally displaced and living in an abandoned school in the outskirts of Baghdad. Before being unemployed, he was working as mechanic and earning enough money to support his family in Dora neighbourhood. His wife, Abdya, works as a housekeeper for some families.
“We've tried different ways to survive in a dignified way but we’ve reached the end of the road now. We need to leave the country but we don’t have money for that.
“For the past seven months, I’ve been selling half of our monthly food rations [distributed as aid by the Ministry of Trade to help poor families registered by the government] to raise some money to flee to Syria. We don’t need that much to get the whole family there - about US $400 for a taxi ride. I might soon have enough money.
“On average, I get about US $20 a month from the half a food ration that I sell. [A food ration includes some rice, beans, cooking oil, soap and lentils]. The supermarkets are the best buyers as they pay from $15 to $20.
“Abdya earns about $30 per month as a housekeeper. She gives me that to add to our funds for leaving Iraq.
“I have taken my children out of school to save money and, in any case, with this level of violence in the country, education is no longer important.
“I have now found another good way to get additional money. Some companies are buying empty cans so I spend all day collecting as many cans as I can from rubbish bins. I take my son Yehia along to help me so that we can finish early.
|In the past, I used to pray every day for someone to invade Iraq and take Saddam away from us. These days, I ask God to forgive him because we are paying the consequences of our betrayal. |
“Sometimes I’m lucky enough to pass near the scene of a recent attack or explosion and I don’t waste time in picking up what I can from the [scrap metal] remains that can be sold. I try to sell in markets where anything can be bought.
“I know all this sounds strange for a family that was once living in a nice house, good car and a good job. Unfortunately, we lost everything in the past year as sectarian violence increased and we ended up with thousands of other Iraqis who had become displaced.
“We are all tired of living without government support. We are on our own. My parents were assassinated during former president Saddam Hussein’s regime and my wife’s parents were killed by US troops in Najaf during the August 2004 attack.
“In the past, I used to pray every day for someone to invade Iraq and take Saddam away from us. These days, I ask God to forgive him [Saddam Hussein] because we are paying the consequences of our betrayal with more death, torture, hunger and thirst than was the case during his time.”