|Many Iraqis have fled their country to avoid the violence [EPA]|
‘Yasmin’ is an Iraqi woman who fled Iraq following the invasion after her family were threatened. She now lives in Sweden with her husband. Because of security reasons and because some of her family remain in Iraq she has not used her real name.
I was at home with my mother and brothers when the invasion happened. We stayed at home for the whole period, apart from two days before the war ended when we went to Diyala province.
The most terrifying memory was three nights before it stopped. It was terrible – they [US troops] entered Baghdad through a highway behind our neighbourhood.
We could see them and hear them – it was a terrible night, we felt even the floor moving beneath us, of all the wars since I was born in Iraq it was the most horrible.
The last bombing was so bad my mother and brother covered our bodies with their own so if anything happened we wouldn’t be hurt.
In April that year my father returned from exile, it was nice as we hadn’t seen him in many years. He had left Iraq as he was wanted by Saddam. They wanted to execute him but managed to escape.
Voices from the Iraq war
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Everything for a while was OK, but by the beginning of 2004 there were killings and kidnappings, my family were seriously threatened and my father’s driver was killed during an attempt on his life.
There were continuous threats to my brothers and father and myself at my work. A few members of our family were killed. It was the beginning of the suffering.
In February 2006 they tried to kidnap me, I’m not sure who it was but they were trying to catch me and a neighbour’s guard saved me.
Then two months later I was hurt by a bomb attack and a letter was sent to my hospital telling me I must stop my work.
My senior supervisor was also threatened and so I went away, but when I came back I was shot at as I tried to enter the hospital.
Finally I applied for leave from the hospital and they didn’t accept as so many had left.
I knew if I tried to work I’d die – one of my friends was killed in his own clinic the month before.
So I left. And one month later my supervisor was killed. Then I knew I couldn’t go back.
Isolated in exile
My mother is still in Iraq and has my picture in front of her bed, she tell me she speaks to it
Now I am in Sweden, but they say Iraq is safe and refugees can go back. If your residency is refused you must return and many are concerned about this as it is easy here to get residency.
However there is a problem; too many criminals from Iraq have come here – the people who stole, killed and kidnapped.
Our town here in Sweden has more than 500 refugees alone in a town with a population of only 5,000.
One Iraqi man went into a local church and threatened to kill himself unless they gave him residency. Often I see Iraqis and wonder what they were doing in Iraq before they came here.
I pray and cry often, because I know I cannot go back and see my family.
My mother is still in Iraq and has my picture in front of her bed, she tell me she speaks to it.
I’m sure will never see them again.
The occupation was both good and not good – it was good as they took away Saddam and changed everything, but after that the leadership in our country began hurting people.
I feel very separated from my family and my future. I lost my future – I was about to finish studies and become a plastic surgeon but now I have to be dentist and then only if they accept my degree.
I think about a year ago I was saying in five or 10 years Iraq will be good, now I think 100 years is not enough.
The government there is just the same faces in different chairs, maybe until the end of days we will not settle.
My husband tells me “you must forget about Iraq, we cannot go back and I will not let you go back”, but it is hard to leave everything and all the things you lived for.