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Iraqi Refugees, Damascus, Syria(29 images)

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Iraqis have been fleeing their homes en masse. As displaced victims of war are forced to seek refuge in other parts of Iraq or in neighboring nations, they have turned into a number: 4.9 million anonymous non-entities, statistically relevant yet individually insignificant.

The days of my stay in Syria offered a small window into the magnitude of a catastrophe that is still...
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  • A sunlit street in the early morning hours in Sayyida Zainab, an extremely poor neighborhood in Damascus, where Iraqi refugees come to escape war and sectarian violence. In many ways, Sayyida Zainab represents the ideal concept of Iraq, an enclave where sectarian divisions are a foreign concept, a religiously and politically unified community..
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  • Known in Sayyida Zainab neighborhood as ?the mother of Iraqis,? Ahlam, is a social worker par excellence. Officially, she is the outreach coordinator for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. She is also a teacher who gave up a large part of her apartment to convert the space into a free language school for 75 pupils who come to study English and French.  Ahlam was detained and imprisoned, and the school was shut down.  After months of uncertainty about her status, Amnesty International succeeded in getting her released and transported to the United States. No details about her whereabouts are known yet.
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  • The rumor spread fast: Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was visiting Damascus and handing out $100 bills to widows with children. The women came, brought their children, waited long hours till late night fell?but of course, did not get to see any dollar bills.
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