Blames UNHCR for his sufferingIraqi in Yemen feels abandoned [Archives:2005/808/Community]

January 17 2005

Mohammed bin Sallam
He escaped the regime in his country because he was targeted and his imprisoned sect in the south of Iraq felt that it was lying between the hammer of the former regime and the ever-lasting wars in that area. Members of this sect were forced to take part in the war.

In spite of the fact that the number of Christians in Iraq exceeds one million and that they occupy high social prestige but, like the Lebanese Christians, the great majority of them are immigrants living outside their country.

Their life is so miserable not because of the pressure practiced over them by the former regime but they are surrounded by Muslim population. They prefer to live in an area inhabited by people of the same religion and believe they will feel more secure and stable during their stay in other countries.

His misfortune led him to travel to Yemen five years ago. He believed to arrive in a country of dreams but the miserable conditions in Yemen made him lament his misfortune while being chained in his hands and feet. Nobody has ever given him advice to immigrate to another country neither did he die.

Who is to help this person who ever seeks a decent life?

I attempt to give our readers what is only true in order not to embarrass the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) that is held responsible for a great part of his suffering.

Kifah Wade'e Habeeb, who was born in 1959 and a civilian of the south of Iraq affiliating to the Christianity, left a son and a daughter living in Baghdad without anybody to provide them with livelihood.

After his arrival in Yemen in April 2000, he spent all his savings on making beauty salons as he was skillful in this respect.

Kifah was subject to extortion by the Taxes Authority, the Municipality and many other parties that compelled him to quit his work. Due to the lack of adequate protection that could be provided by the concerned Yemeni parties and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, he stayed idle, suffering from chronic diseases. He used to keep in fasting throughout the year except for a few days when some of his friends paid him visits.

Although he was holding a refugee identity, he was protected from the severe treatment.

According to him, The UN High Commissioner for Refugees did not offer him any support or any guarantee to maintain his humanity. Neither residence, food, job opportunity, health insurance nor adequate protection were provided to him by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees as it does in many other countries all over the world. The UNHCR did not grant him the right to move to a third country.

Kifah said: “though I was subjected to a kidnapping attempt by agents of the former Iraqi regime, all this was not taken seriously by the UN to help me move to a safer country.

Concerning the reasons justifying anger of the former Iraqi regime at him, he said: ” I used to write more and more against Saddam's regime and as well as his son Udey. I started my writing in Jordan and then in Yemen in a indirect way.”

He added that the problem did not stem from his animosity against Saddam and his son although Saddam killed his younger brother in 2000 and that he bears no malice against those who took power after Saddam. The problem did stem from his thoughts as he, supported by millions of people, calls for security and stability.

As Iraq lost security and stability and there is no hope for restoring stability during decades to come and as his health is going bad with the passage of days, he has to given the right to move to a third country.

“My real problem was forwarded to the UNHCR since I believed it is higher as named however it is not. I want to depart from Yemen and not to return home. I do not like to stay in any one of the Arab countries as they do not respect freedoms and human rights”, Kifah mentioned. “Nobody at the UNHCR pays attention to me or listens to what I say; they keep me standing at the gate during the working hours without any answer to my requests. I entered Yemen with $ 6750 in my pocket with the aim to establish a modest project expecting to get some benefits but “The wind goes against the will of ships”. I could not achieve any thing.”

Kifah: “said the environment in Yemen does not encourage foreigners to invest in any field and now I believe that I became a beggar. I became a beggar however I do not ask anybody for help. Here in Yemen, refugees resort to beg due hunger and their need for clothes or to be thrown in Kharaz Camp where nothing, even out of value, is available.

At the end of the meeting, Kifah had his last words, ” first I went to forward my message to the Yemeni Government and then to the UN represented by Kofi Anan. In my message I shout that the UNHCR based in Yemen does not carry out its tasks well, as there is no adequate protection nor care for refugees is realized.

I suffer from some heart diseases including hypertension and diabetes and some of my blood vessels do not operate. I am in an urgent need for help to get treatment outside Yemen.

I am not a terrorist and do not have terrorist thoughts, rather I am a free man and like to remain free for the rest of my life. If I were forced to come back to Iraq or to stay here in Yemen, I would cry out to all the human organizations and the different media means worldwide that the UNHCR does not have clear conscience nor do its duties well.”