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Refugee medico reclaims his career

29 June 20212 comments

An Iraqi refugee doctor has realised a four year dream of being able to resume his career as a specialist physician in Australia after fleeing the conflict in his homeland.

Iraqi medico Dr Asseel Yako has achieved ‘specialist recognition’ as a physician in Australia after a four year struggle.

He has been recognised by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians after spending two years training at Warragul Hospital in Gippsland.

He is currently a senior registrar at Warragul Hospital but when he renews his registration at the end of the year, he will become a consultant physician.

Dr Yako is one of the few refugee doctors to gain recognition as a specialist in Australia although many have managed to become registered as GPs.

“It feels great. I want to thank everyone who has helped me along the way. It wasn’t easy but it’s been very rewarding. It’s an awesome feeling,” Dr Yako said.

“When I was trying to do this, many people told me I couldn’t do it,” he said.

Dr Yako said he would take some time to consider his future.

He was working as doctor in Iraq during when the conflict there broke out.

His daily work was tending to battlefield wounds suffered by soldiers or militia members fighting ISIS or patching up women children horrifically injured in explosions or gunfire.

He studied and worked as a doctor for almost twenty years but struggled to be able to resume his career after arriving in Australia.

For Dr Yako in his home town of Qaraqosh even travelling to work at the city’s hospital was perilous.

“It was dangerous simply getting to work. There were bombs, kidnappings and people were killed on the street,” Dr Yako said.

“A friend of ours – a surgeon – just disappeared one day,” he said.

Dr Yako loved his work as a doctor in Qaraqosh – a largely Assyrian city in northern Iraq – and now living in Australia as a refugee he is giving back to the country that afforded his family sanctuary.

“Inside the town things were dangerous but OK for a while. We had different people coming from other parts of Iraq to the hospital in the town,” Dr Yako said.

“When the security forces were present, everything was fine but when they left after ISIS came it became ever dangerous,” he said.

Dr Yako took his family away from Qaraqosh and eventually to Jordon in August 2014.

“My wife was pregnant and about to go into labour. We moved to Erbil – a ten hour road trip – and after a week my wife gave birth to our son Darwin,” he said.

The family stayed in Erbil until February 2015 when they moved to Jordan.

“We rented an apartment there and I worked as a volunteer in a refugee camp for Syrians and Iraqis because I was not allowed to work,” Dr Yako said.

“We lived in a poor area in the town but even there rents were very high and life was difficult,” he said.

“After one year our visa application was accepted and we moved here to Australia.

“We arrived in February 2017 and since then I have been working to reestablish my career,” Dr Yako said.