FEATURED STORY

Caught in Three Wars

Nahid's story fleeing from Iraq to Syria to Libya

Josh Harris, International Medical Corps Communications Manager

Nahid Hassan, 65, was born and raised in Baghdad where she worked as an Arabic language teacher for over 14 years. She is also a mother of three and a grandmother.

The year 2007 marked the height of the sectarian conflict in Iraq, “When it all happened, people were being dragged out of their houses. All I was thinking was praying to God that no one knocks on my house.

Nahid’s husband became very ill and was taken to the hospital in Baghdad. “I asked my neighbor to say that our house is an empty house, just to make sure my sons and daughter will not be harmed while I visited their sick father at the hospital. I didn’t know death had taken him, but it was God’s will to lose the love of life.”

“My husband and the father of my beloved children, succumbed to a heart attack in a cold hospital bed. I knew that nothing would ever be the same without him. And what was worse was that I had to bury him on my own. No one was there. Not even my children knew until after the burial had been complete.”

Iraq at this time was a dangerous place for a family without an adult man in the household and so Nahid was helped to leave Iraq by her neighbors to escape the escalating violence.

“I packed my things and my important papers in bags and put them in his car. It was first thing in the early morning, walking by dead bodies of people we knew, but we had to go on our way. After a long trip, we reached the Syrian border, but it was shut down for three days. For three days we had to sleep in the open air with no tents or food and water. Three days of torture, until we were actually able to cross the border.”

After several years in Syria, Nahid and her family were once against forced to flee for their lives from the conflict engulfing that country. International Medical Corps met Nahid in 2013 at a Community Development Center in Zulten, Libya.

These centers provide psycho-social services, financial support, mental health and medical services, with a free pharmacy on site, non-food items (NFIs) such as diapers, kitchen sets, school bags, and many other forms of support to refugees living inside Libya.

“Things didn’t get better for us after the Libyan revolution. It feels as though we ran from one war to fall into another one.”

Both my sons lost their jobs, and are now returned to sleeping next to each other in one small bedroom. Facing eviction from the house that we all live in and share together, we are forced to make decisions about uprooting and relocating elsewhere. We have no plan, very little money and rely solely on the support we get here at the community center. We are worried about what the future holds.”