Iraqi Interpreters in Distress

The US is churlishly ignoring the medical and financial needs of Iraqi interpreters who have provided invaluable assistance to the troops in Iraq.

Here’s the Denver Post article about it. Take this Iraqi guy:

Ali nearly died two years ago when he tried to defend Marines from a suicide bomber bearing down in an explosives-packed truck. The bomber detonated, leaving Ali unconscious, riddled with shrapnel, legs broken, burns covering 60 percent of his body.

And this guy:

Denver resident Nazar al-Taei turned to trucking, too, and is trying to arrange treatment for nerve damage suffered when he was hit in a mortar attack.

The former interpreters, including some who lost limbs and eyesight, are targeted as “collaborators” in Iraq. Hundreds are believed to be hiding in Iraq and neighboring Jordan, abandoned by the U.S. military and its contractor, L3-Titan, that hired them for $160 a week. A dozen or so have been accepted into the United States as refugees.

Unlike the soldiers they served, they aren’t entitled to Veterans Administration care or high-tech prosthetics.

The first priority ought to be rescuing those still in Iraq and Jordan and their families, said Moghera al-Gailany, 28, who lost sight in one eye and use of an arm after an attack in Baghdad. He’s now living in Worcester, Mass., and working part time for FedEx at night.

“Do something. They’re a bunch of very good guys. They’re losing their minds, their lives,” al-Gailany said. Then “just give us a job, a full-time job, so we can cover our own needs and pay for insurance.”

In Salt Lake City, Diyar al-Bayati, 22, can’t work because he needs treatment for his mangled arm. A bomb in 2006 blew off both his legs.

Social worker Debi Healy and a human rights group are guiding him as he tries to negotiate with American International Group, the insurance company hired to provide coverage for L3-Titan employees. Al-Bayati said he’s waiting for a reconstructive surgery that might begin to restore the arm that hangs at his side.

“Thank god, I am fine,” he said, though he acknowledges he’s terrified his relatives in Iraq could be killed.

Regaining even partial use of his arm “would make a big difference,” he said. “When you’ve got another arm, you will keep your balance.”

Of course this is just one small story and there are millions of people who have been adversely affected by the war, but I sympathize with my fellow language-workers. *fake gang sign fist jab*

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Filed under arab, arabic, language, War in Iraq

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