Shat­tered lives, a torn na­tion, bro­ken hearts

Iraq: The Lost Gen­er­a­tion 8.30pm, SBS

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv - Ian Cuth­bert­son

IN the five years since Sad­dam Hus­sein’s regime was top­pled, 20 per cent of Iraq’s pop­u­la­tion, many of them pro­fes­sion­als, has fled vi­o­lence, ac­cord­ing to this doc­u­men­tary.

Bri­tish jour­nal­ist Sharmeen ObaidChi­noy in­ves­ti­gates sto­ries of Iraqis she says you wouldn’t oth­er­wise hear, such as those of Iraqis who served coali­tion forces but were aban­doned and are be­ing hunted by mur­der­ous mili­tias. She looks into child vic­tims of the con­flict seek­ing treat­ment out­side Iraq and in­ves­ti­gates whether refugees are re­ally re­turn­ing now that se­cu­rity is sup­posed to be im­prov­ing.

She also pro­files the Chris­tians of Iraq. There were a mil­lion of them be­fore the war. And now? Well, no one re­ally knows.

So where did the flee­ing Iraqis go? An es­ti­mated 1.5 mil­lion went to Syria, just across the border. But the Syr­ian Gov­ern­ment refers to them as guests and ac­cords them no le­gal sta­tus. They are not al­lowed to work and if their three- month visas run out they can be obliged to leave.

Obaid- Chi­noy tells us that ev­ery refugee in Da­m­as­cus has a story and they are des­per­ate to talk.

One man, who said masked men shot him seven times, leav­ing him paral­ysed from the waist down, be­lieves he has an in­ter­view the next day at the UN, for which he has been wait­ing for months. He hopes to ap­ply for med­i­cal aid through its refugee pro­gram. Obaid- Chi­noy agrees to go along with him, cam­era crew in tow. But when they ar­rive she sees what he is up against. His ap­point­ment is shared by hun­dreds of peo­ple queued up, all hop­ing to get asy­lum. In­cred­i­bly, a Bri­tish of­fi­cial tells her on cam­era that pre­cisely four peo­ple have been ac­cepted from there into Bri­tain’s med­i­cal refugee pro­gram in the past year.

As a mea­sure of the man’s des­per­a­tion, he de­cides to stick around on the slim chance that he will be the next one cho­sen.

On and on the pro­gram goes, re­port­ing un­told suf­fer­ing in a seem­ingly end­less cat­a­logue of de­spair.

Some refugees are vic­tims of sui­cide bomb at­tacks in Bagh­dad, some have been forced out by re­li­gious or sec­tar­ian vi­o­lence. Many are hor­ri­bly in­jured, home­less, in ter­ri­ble pain and, as snow falls in Da­m­as­cus and then the tem­per­a­ture drops to mi­nus 8C, you have to won­der what Iraq has done to de­serve the suf­fer­ing of its cit­i­zens, es­pe­cially since the West de­cided to fix things.

There are 250,000 Iraqi child refugees in Am­man, Jor­dan. By the time Obaid- Chi­noy in­ter­views some of them, any­thing left of your hard, ob­jec­tive heart will be ir­re­vo­ca­bly shat­tered.

De­spair: Sharmeen Obaid- Chi­noy talks to a young Iraqi burns vic­tim

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.