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Iraqi Refugees in Jordan - 2003-03-18

We are devoting much of the program today to the Iraqi crisis. Here’s another angle to the story,.a status report on Iraqi refugees in Jordan.

Jim Harriott reports on this.

“My name is Salam Abdul Jaleel. I fled Iraq 3 months ago with my wife and my family. Life in Baghdad is very hard. You are never safe, you are always persecuted and terrorized. There is no justice there.”

Salam works illegally in several coffee shops in East Aman. But he never stays in one for long.


“For now we have to keep changing jobs or the immigration police will catch us. If they catch any Iraqi who is illegal then they might send them back to Iraq. We are afraid to go back there because we might be killed. If we went back to Iraq then even my son might be executed.”

Since fleeing Iraq, the life of Maha, Salam's wife, has also changed dramatically. She used to have a well-paid office job in Baghdad, but now she does menial jobs like Salaam. The family bribed Iraqi passport officials and escaped to Amman after Maha was almost killed by people who, the family claim, were working for Uday, one of Saddam Hussein's sons.

“My wife was arrested and put in jail. She was stabbed here, with a bayonet by people who worked for Uday. She was working for the Iraqi Olympic committee and they accused her of leaking information, but she had nothing to do with it.”

While many Iraqi exiles here talk of the brutality of Saddam Hussein's regime, most of the Abdul Jaleel family can point to the scars to prove it.

“Four men broke into my house. It was a Friday. I was sitting with Sermad and my husband, thinking we were safe. They smashed into the house, and started hitting my husband with rifle butts. So I started shouting, until I saw them shove Sermat. I saw he had blood on his chest and I thought he was badly hurt.”

“This is just a small scar for him to always remember Saddam Hussein by.”

“Then one of them clasped his hand over my mouth and they took me to a place where they dump waste. I felt one of them inserting something in my back, and later on I found out it was a bayonet from a rifle. I couldn't breath afterwards.”

“Now we are waiting for God's mercy and the Americans.”