Forced to leave wife behind to keep kids safe

  • Nation
  • Monday, 31 Mar 2003

RUWEISHED: She cried all night, searching for her mother. Shivering in convulsion, she has been unable to sleep since the first day of arrival at the refugee camp at the border here. 

“So please don’t ask her about her mother, she will start crying,” a Red Crescent worker cautioned The Star journalists taking pictures of a girl peering out of a tent. 

The subdued little girl, about eight years old, ran back to the comfort of her father’s lap, refusing to come out until much later.  

Her younger brother of 18 months, wearing an oversized dirty blue “Polo USA” T-shirt, was outside running about in the harsh desert sand which had swirled in a sandstorm a few days earlier, blowing away some tents. 

The bright-eyed boy played with other refugee kids, oblivious to the seething anger over Anglo-American missiles killing and maiming civilians and children daily. 

The boy's father, looking very depressed, was seen telling his story of despair to relief workers inside the tent on Friday afternoon.  

INNOCENT VICTIMS: The 18-month-old boy playing with other children at the Ruweished refugee camp in Jordan.

Doctors and nurses, helping him change the diapers of his youngest child since their arrival at the border on Wednesday night, have seen the man crying. 

The Yemeni man had fled the bombings, leaving behind his Iraqi wife who was unable to obtain a permit to make the 650km journey across Iraq to the Jordan border. 

A chance to talk with him personally was blocked by some camp guards who refused re-entry into the security area after a brief period permitting journalists to interview the refugees. 

He is one of 178 people currently staying in one of the two camps set up at the border for third country nationals who fled Iraq in recent days. 

The previous day, Mohammad Naji, 38, had told the volunteer workers that he fled Iraq with his children, three girls and two boys, to avoid the “American missiles targeting the city he was living in.” 

“It was difficult to continue living in Iraq with rockets falling on our heads every day. These missiles killed some of my neighbours,” related Naji who left behind his sick Iraqi wife in Misan city. 

Now, he fears for the life of his wife who suffers from hypertension. He has to decide if he wants to go back to Yemen with the children.  

“I could not make a passport for her. I could not find any help,” were the words of the father torn between the lives of his children and their mother. 

He was forced to leave her behind for the sake of his innocent children.  

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