The Rhamani Family, lifetime refugees. Photo by Martin Thaulow

The Rhamani Family, lifetime refugees

Meet the Rahman family. Both parents and kids were born in refugee camps in Iraq. They are stateless and seem to be forgotten. Mahmood Ali Rhamani was born in 1984 in the refugee camp Al-Tash. A camp located in central Iraq, close to the city Ramadi some 110 km from Baghdad. His parents fled Iran after the Iranina revolution in 1979, due to their Kurdish ethnicity and the father’s political activity.

The camp Al-Tash was established by the former government to gather all Iranian ethnic Kurds in one place and housed 12.000 people. Living conditions were poor; refugees were living in tents and simple houses. In 2003 when Saddam Hussein was overthrown things went from bad to worse, as a large number of al-Qaeda forces, ex-Baathists, and agents of the Islamic Republic of Iran infiltrated the camp. People were killed and gradually forced to leave the camp, with the majority going to the North of Iraq, (Kurdistan).


Mahmood and his family endured Al-Tash until 2006. At that time Mahmood had spent 23 years in the camp, his entire life. He left Al-Tash with his mother and two brothers and they went to the UNHCR camp Barike, in North Iraq.

In Barike he met his wife Jwana (28). She was yet another lifetime refugee, born in Al-Tash, who also left to seek refuge in camp Barike. Jwana gave birth to their two sons Ziad (2) and Aiad (soon to be 5), both born as second generation refugees.


Mahmood - “The only days I have experienced happiness were when I married Jwana, and when she gave birth to Aiad and Ziad. I feel tremendously sad because I have spent all of my life living as a refugee.”


The son, Aiad was born a normal boy looking like any other kid. At the age of 2 he lost all hair on his body. They sought help at a local hospital, but being a poor family, they couldn’t afford to get a diagnosis or give him treatment. Still they don’t know, what he is suffering from.


Mahmood - “Jawana and I have only one dream… We dream of Aiad getting treatment. We fear the worst – Please give our son treatment.”


In 2015 they had been in Barike for almost 9 years. ISIS endangered the area, and like the former camp in Al-Tash, living conditions were bad. The Rhamani family were poor, but despite this they managed to flee to Europe by selling what little they had and years of saving.


In the middle of October 2015 they reached Denmark, and not a single doctor has checked up on Aiad. They are now in the 5th refugee camp, still waiting for their first interview due to be sometime during April.

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