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Ahmed Urgently Needs Healthcare – All He Wants Is Clothes


Ahmed is lying down, head propped up on his left hand. The former classroom on the first floor of what is now a makeshift IDP centre in Haj Ali, is crowded. He is with his mother and sister, and others in the room are preparing an Eid meal with meat provided by a local sheikh. Ahmed has Down’s Syndrome, and is unable to walk.

The mood in this repurposed school is at once calmer – no immediate crowds eager to share their experiences – and busier, with children running around and women preparing food, dealing with laundry and looking after those in need.

Ahmed has multiple medical needs that cannot be addressed in Haj Ali, and went ignored in his home village of Imam Gharby for over two years. Three weeks ago they went in search of help in another ISIL-controlled village, Ganous.

When they were refused help there, his aging mother Fatha says that he was smuggled out of the village two nights previously, in the boot of a family friend’s car. His mother and sister, like so many others recently arrived in Haj Ali, walked overnight.

When ISIL arrived in Imam Gharby in June 2014, Fatha pleaded for the medicines Ahmed needs. The militants refused to help, but later insisted they could, as long as the family promised to become mobaya (followers). Fatha and daughter Zuhor refused, knowing that the militants didn’t have access to the pharmaceuticals required. By choosing not to follow, the family were labelled awam.

Mobaya had food, gas, the essentials provided by ISIL. Awam were given nothing, not even those so desperately in need like this family.

Fatha reiterates that Ahmed’s need for medical assessment and treatment is acute, and lifts his shirt to reveal visible tumours on his chest, and extremely sensitive skin. Ahmed, seemingly unaware, just asks repeatedly for new clothes.

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