Iraq + 1 more

Iraq-Jordan: Khalid Khamas, Jordan, "This uncertainty is killing me from inside"

AMMAN, 25 June 2007 (IRIN) - When 41-year-old former restaurant owner Khalid Khamas arrived in Jordan three years ago from Iraq, he was ecstatic about his new life. As time went by his dreams were shattered. His future remains uncertain in a country in which he does not feel welcome.

"I was living in constant fear in Iraq because my family became a target for the militias and gangsters. I knew I would end up dead or kidnapped. Two of my brothers were killed in front of their houses because of their religious backgrounds. My house in the southern governorate of Kut was bombed after I received several threats from death squads. I was never a member of the Baath Party [of former President Saddam Hussein]. Half of my family are Sunnis and the other half Shia but death squads came after us because of our Sunni names.

"I arrived in Jordan three years ago hoping to have a better life, away from threats and fear of the unknown. My children - sons Haidar, 9, and Jabar, 12; and daughters Yasmin, 6, and Huda, 10 - were also very happy to come because they could go to school again without being afraid of abduction or being killed in an explosion. I thought to myself: A good job and schools for my children will put my life back on the right track.

"Now I am living with my children in a modest apartment in Amman hoping to move to a third country.

"When I first landed in Amman I was excited because I stopped being afraid of tomorrow. But within a few months, I felt I had become addicted to worrying about anything and everything. Now I face deportation at any moment, meaning I might be sent back to face death again. My children are deprived of education because with my US$120 salary a month I cannot afford fees for private schools [which range from US$500 to $7,000 a year], and public [government] schools say they have no room for foreigners. Sometimes I wish I had been killed along with my family in the war. At least we would not have suffered and been humiliated this much.

"This uncertainty is eating me from inside. My only fault in life is being an Iraqi. I do not want a fancy car and a highly paid job. I only want a sense of normality, like any other human being but this seems to be a very difficult thing to achieve when you are an Iraqi living in Iraq or as an Iraqi refugee.

"I applied to emigrate to western countries as soon as I arrived here. Only recently I was told to prepare myself for an interview within six months. But I am not sure if I can wait that long. I have no legal status here, and that has made it almost impossible to get a regular job. Now I sell mobile phones near a shopping mall in Amman, but the money is not enough for transport, let alone food and accommodation. If it were not for my brother-in-law who sends us US$200 a month from Denmark, my wife and four children would have starved to death. This uncertainty is killing me from inside and destroying my family."