Kloie Picot

Photographer/ Videographer

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Iraqi Victims of War

“Enduring hardship for what else shall we do?”

(This photo essay is part of an ongoing project I started in July 2008 photographing and documenting the lives of Iraqi refugees in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.)

Kidnap, murder, soldier, explosion, army, militia, ambush car; these words are the pattern of vernacular of Iraqi children and their parents in the mayhem of Iraq.

Iraqis kidnapped and tortured, or wounded by car bombs, missiles and mortars, often exacerbated by improper medical care and severe infections, bear their wounds of war with determination and a patient shrug; for today in Baghdad, Sadr City, Anbar, Basra, Karbala, Kirkurt, Najaf, Diyala Sulaymaniyah, Qadisiyah, Babil, Dahuk, Arbil, Tam’mim, Salah ad Din; sufferance is the badge of all their tribe. In other words who are you going to complain to when everyone is facing the same situation.

In Iraq, the tens of thousands of war victims are faced with endless, often insurmountable obstacles to get even basic medical attention. After years of conflict, the Iraqi health-care system is overwhelmed by the constant influx of wounded patients who flood the hospital on a daily basis. Many doctors have been murdered and because of the violence, threats and kidnappings, those who can leave the country have done so, and are either refugees or have been able to resettle in the west. The remaining ones must tend to the most urgent, life-threatening cases first.

The people featured in this photo essay have all fled Iraq, some specifically for medical attention (and when lucky have been accepted into the medical treatment program sponsored by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF)), and some because of threats and persecution. Many of those fleeing to neighboring Jordan, Syria and Lebanon have been kidnapped, tortured, their houses taken over, their churches attacked, their businesses robbed, and their lives forever changed.

Though Iraqis are not strangers to war and conflict, they have never been refugees. The majority of those who have fled Iraq and can afford to wait out the conflict in Arab neighboring countries, while waiting for asylum to a 3rd country, are educated, held well paying jobs, or owned their own business and lived in relative comfort. Many have nothing to return to in Iraq, they have lost their homes, jobs, and livelihood. Their physical deformities will brand them for life. As for the young girls featured in this essay, who will take care of them as they grow into marrying age? Will they find work, will they be able to survive the stigma of being victims of war. And so the refugee waits, day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year for that call that signals they have been selected to be resettled into the very country that caused them to have to endure their hardships so patiently.