Iraqi families find safety in Australia
Nine Iraqi families have finally reached safety in Australia after living precarious and fearful lives in their homeland over the past four years.
The families are those of interpreters who worked with the Australian Defence Force when it was deployed in Iraq.
The interpreters were employed at Camp Taji, near Baghdad, and elsewhere during the years of coalition forces’ occupation of Iraq following the 2003 Iraq War.
After the last coalition troops left Iraq in November 2019, life changed for the nine families and others who had worked with foreign militaries.
“Life became difficult and scary in terms of the security situation,” said Samir, who worked as an interpreter with the ADF from 2015 as well as with US and New Zealand military units.
“We were subject to threats because some groups, some of the militias, regarded us as traitors for working with western countries,” he said, speaking just three weeks after arriving Melbourne.
“We even feared we might be killed.
“Also we couldn’t find work easily. If we applied for a job we would have to give out work history and no one would hire us because we had worked with these militaries from overseas,” he said.
Samir told of a frightening incident
“There was one time when we were leaving Camp Taji travelling from work to home – and there was a checkpoint which was supposed to be a military checkpoint.
“But it was manned by some militia members who demanded to know who I was working for. They said: ‘you are working with the US’.
“I was afraid but I told them I wasn’t working for the US. The let me go but the next day the camp was hit by rockets,” Samir said.
Another of the interpreters Ali, told how he was the target of a failed assassination attempt because of his work with the ADF.
“One day, were being transported from Camp Taji to Baghdad when our vehicles were targeted by gunfire,” Ali said.
“We thought we would be killed or taken hostage but luckily there were some police nearby and the returned the gunfire and fortunately chased off the militia gunmen,” he said.
Samir said he planned to study and work once his family were settled properly in Melbourne.
“I want to work and study. I want to study to become more useful to the community here in Australia. But I need to work also to support my family.”
Ali has similar plans.
“I want to study to improve myself. Being in Australia is a big opportunity and I want to make the most if it find a pathway to a better life. But I also want to work as translator or a driver to be able to provide for my family
Samir said the families were relieved and thankful to have made it to Australia.
“We are all relieved and thankful the Australian government didn’t forget us and leave us behind,” he said.
“Being here is just perfect. Just like a dream. We are more than happy. We are safe.
“We can get on with our lives and our children will have opportunities and better futures here in Australia,” Samir said.