Accessibility links

Breaking News

Kurdish Homeless Woman Gets Shelter After VOA Report

Amina Ali, shown in a screen capture from a broadcast on VOA's Kurdish Service programming, will be offered permanent housing and monthly cash assistance, Kurdish officials said.

A homeless Kurdish woman was given shelter and is being resettled by the government of the Kurdistan region of Iraq after a VOA Kurdish broadcast detailed her suffering last week.

Amina Ali, 39, had been living in a public park in the city of Sulaimani in the Kurdish region in northern Iraq after she could no longer afford to pay her rent.

"I have no place to live in," she told VOA from inside a tent at the park. "I've been here for weeks."

Soon after a television report was broadcast Friday on VOA's Kurdish Service programming, local officials reached out to VOA for help in locating the woman, a Kurdish official told VOA.

"We didn't know about her until we watched your video report," Omar Gulpi, a local official at the department of social services, told VOA. "We are following her case and for now we have provided her with temporary residence."

Since the beginning of the war with IS militants in 2014, the Kurdish region has been dealing with a severe financial crisis that has greatly crippled economic growth.

The crisis is partially due to budget disputes between the Kurdish government and central government in Baghdad, Kurdish officials say.

Homelessness is becoming an increasing problem among local Kurds as the region grapples with the resettling of thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing civil war, as well as internally displaced people in Iraq escaping Islamic State.

Ali, a widow whose brother was killed fighting IS, says she doesn't have any family to support her after her husband died of cancer.

Welfare laws in the Kurdistan region require female citizens to be at least 55 years old to be eligible for government assistance. But officials say they will make an exception for Ali. Given her dire situation, she will be included in the public welfare program.

"This is a very unfortunate story," Mohammed Hawidiani, the Minister of Social Services, told VOA. "I will make certain that she gets all the care she deserves."

Ali will be offered permanent housing and monthly cash assistance, Kurdish officials said.