Falling in love in wartime Iraq (A Real Life Love Story)
US Army interpreter Nayyef Hrebid
and Iraqi soldier Btoo Allami fell in love at the height of the Iraq
War. It was the start of a dangerous 12-year struggle to live together
as a couple.
In 2003, Nayyef Hrebid found himself in the midst of
the Iraq war. The fine art graduate had signed up to be a translator for
the US Army after he couldn’t find a job.
“I was based in
Ramadi, which was the worst place at that time. We would go out on
patrols and people would be killed by IEDs [roadside bombs] and snipers.
I was asking myself: ‘Why am I here? Why am I doing this?’”
However, a chance encounter with a soldier in the Iraqi army changed everything.
I have visited Iraq five times since 2007, and I have seen nothing like the suffering I’m witnessing now. I came to visit the camps and informal settlements where displaced Iraqis and Syrian refugees are desperately seeking shelter from the fighting that has convulsed their region.
In almost four years of war, nearly half of Syria’s population of 23 million people has been uprooted. Within Iraq itself, more than two million people have fled conflict and the terror unleashed by extremist groups. These refugees and displaced people have witnessed unspeakable brutality. Their children are out of school, they are struggling to survive, and they are surrounded on all sides by violence.
For many years I have visited camps, and every time, I sit in a tent and hear stories. I try my best to give support. To say something that will show solidarity and give some kind of thoughtful guidance. On this trip I was speechless.
What do you say to a mother with tears streaming down her face who says her daughter is in the hands of the Islamic State, or ISIS, and that she wishes she were there, too? Even if she had to be raped and tortured, she says, it would be better than not being with her daughter.
What do you say to the 13-year-old girl who describes the warehouses where she and the others lived and would be pulled out, three at a time, to be raped by the men? When her brother found out, he killed himself.
How can you speak when a woman your own age looks you in the eye and tells you that her whole family was killed in front of her, and that she now lives alone in a tent and has minimal food rations?
In the next tent, I met a family of eight children. No parents. Father killed. Mother missing, most likely taken. The 19-year-old boy is the sole breadwinner. When I comment that it is a lot of responsibility for his age, he just smiles and puts his arm around his young sister. He tells me he is grateful he has the opportunity to work and help them. He means it. He and his family are the hope for the future. They are resilient against impossible odds.
Nothing prepares you for the reality of so much individual human misery: for the stories of suffering and death, and the gaze of hungry, traumatised children.
Who can blame them for thinking that we have given up on them? Only a fraction of the humanitarian aid they need is being provided. There has been no progress on ending the war in Syria since the Geneva process collapsed 12 months ago. Syria is in flames, and areas of Iraq are gripped by fighting. The doors of many nations are bolted against them. There is nowhere they can turn.
Syria’s neighbors have taken in nearly four million Syrian refugees, but they are reaching their limits. Syrian refugees now make up 10 percent of Jordan’s population. In Lebanon, every fourth person is now a Syrian. They need food, shelter, education, health care and work. This means fewer resources available for local people. Far wealthier countries might crack under these pressures.
Stories of terror, barrel bombs and massacres have acquired an awful familiarity. There is a great temptation to turn inward, to focus on our own troubles.
But the plain fact is we cannot insulate ourselves against this crisis. The spread of extremism, the surge in foreign fighters, the threat of new terrorism - only an end to the war in Syria will begin to turn the tide on these problems. Without that, we are just tinkering at the edges.
At stake are not only the lives of millions of people and the future of the Middle East, but also the credibility of the international system. What does it say about our commitment to human rights and accountability that we seem to tolerate crimes against humanity happening in Syria and Iraq on a daily basis?
When the United Nations refugee agency was created after World War II, it was intended to help people return to their homes after conflict. It wasn’t created to feed, year after year, people who may never go home, whose children will be born stateless, and whose countries may never see peace. But that is the situation today, with 51 million refugees, asylum-seekers or displaced people worldwide, more than at any time in the organisation’s history.
Much more assistance must be found to help Syria’s neighbors bear the unsustainable burden of millions of refugees. The United Nations’s humanitarian appeals are significantly underfunded. Countries outside the region should offer sanctuary to the most vulnerable refugees in need of resettlement - for example, those who have experienced rape or torture. And above all, the international community as a whole has to find a path to a peace settlement. It is not enough to defend our values at home, in our newspapers and in our institutions. We also have to defend them in the refugee camps of the Middle East, and the ruined ghost towns of Syria.
Angelina Jolie’s speech on the Syrian and Iraqi refugees.
Refugees are literally everywhere. They go anywhere to stay safe. Where I live, most of our refugees are from Burma, Pakistan, Iraq, and Syria. But there are many from other places as well.
The reason I’m making this post is because I cannot stress enough how important it is to help refugees. Refugees literally have nothing when they arrive. Most come due to agencies. But those agencies do the BARE MINIMUM to help these people.
I’ve had the blessing to meet many refugees. I’ve talked to them, they tell me they live in apartments that the agencies provided and that they’re nice but small and they’re grateful. They tell me they’re grateful to be starting school in a few week and they’re grateful that they have food on their tables.
But these people don’t tell u about the bad stuff. And that just comes to show you how little they have.
One women I know who helps the refugees told me of their living conditions. They live in small cramped apartments that are infested with roaches and other bugs. Some even have moles and other rodents. Most of these refugee parents have many children, whether they’re theirs or not. They take in children who’s parents have died or who’s parents weren’t able to get visas. Because of all the people most of the refugees sleep on the floor one next to another with little room to move around. They also don’t have vehicles, so they walk anywhere they need to go, or have a generous soul drive them.
The women who told me that ^ is one of the few people who checks up on the refugees. She told me that one time she went to see if they needed anything and all they had in their refrigerators was water bottles. They hadn’t received enough food because the other people had forgotten to check up on them and bring some.
Most of the refugee parents are single mothers, a lot are widows and some couldn’t get their husbands visas. The agency is making them get jobs or threatening to stop helping them. But these parents have no where to leave their children. The agency says to get a baby sitter but they don’t have money to hire one. And if that isn’t bad enough- they speak little to no English so it’s very verY VERY difficult to find a job.
The children are starting school soon, so the local mosque and other organizations are having school supply drives so they can collect supplies for the kids. These children will go to school, get education, make friends and learn English. These refugees are now part of the community. They will no longer refer to themselves as refugees Once they are situated. So they need all the help they can get to be situated.
I know how these people live and I am now trying to get my mother and my family to help me make food for them and deliver it to them. My sisters and I go out to events where the refugees go and talk to them and play with them and make them feel included. And let me tell you, the feeling you get, knowing you’ve helped this person and given them hope, is priceless. Their smiles are precious.
Helping refugees is not hard. It’s very simple. And even the smallest act of kindness you do for them, gives them the largest amount of hope. Here’s some ways you can help them:
•give them food
•give them supplies
•help find them jobs
•help clean their homes
•teach them English
And of you have more money:
•help them get better homes
•take them shopping (they’ll have so much fun, trust me)
•help them get a vehicle.
But the best thing you can do for them is to check up on them, be their friend, and give them hope.
Please spread this, people need to know.
And one last thing: it doesn’t matter your race, religion, or beliefs, what matters is that your helping someone in need.
She is halfway up the drive way when her phone starts to buzz in her bag. She shakes her head with a bright smile when she sees his name on the display.
“Shouldn’t you have your eyes on the road…?”
College!AU in which Natasha studies ballet at NYADA and Bucky just returned home to NYC after having been gravely injured on his last tour in Iraq. It is love at first sight for the boy from Brooklyn and the Russian princess who grew up on the Upper East Side. Her parents however see their daughter’s future already written in stone and for them someone like Bucky has no place in her story.