Monday, April 9, 2007

Iraqi Refugees in Lebanon

Invisible lives: Iraqis in Lebanon Serene Assir, Electronic Lebanon, 9 April 2007

At home in a backstreet of Hayy al-Sillom, one of Beirut's sprawling southern suburbs' densely populated and poverty-ridden quarters, Bassem lies on the floor with his multiply fractured leg stretched out in front of him. Though it is broad daylight outside, the windows are shut and the lights are dim in his tiny living room. The air is heavy, almost unbearably so, with cigarette smoke and the stench of urine from a makeshift container he uses, as he cannot get up to go to the bathroom. Covering his body with an old blanket, he surrounds himself only with smokes, piled up ashtrays and the medicines he takes to relieve his pain. His frame reveals he was once an able man, one who could happily take care of providing for his family of five.

But the profound sadness in his eyes shows that, today, Bassem is a broken man. "We fled Baghdad in late 2003," said Bassem, who is in his early forties. "Security has continually deteriorated since, so I cannot foresee that we will ever return home. I was able to find work as a blacksmith. Though I didn't make much money, at least we had an income with which I could support my family. After my accident at work, I instead became a burden."

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