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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-09-07 04:28 PM
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Iraq's homeless poor crushed by war's aftermath

Iraq's homeless poor crushed by war's aftermath
Apr 8 11:57 PM US/Eastern

An old man slumbers on a rotten and stinking sofa as a malnourished scruffy child in rags bats around a ball in the dust and flies buzz through the decay. In Baghdad the homeless live hand to mouth.

Left with no income after her son was killed in the war, and with her husband old and helpless, Salwa Lifan Salman had to leave her working-class home and move into a squat at the bombed-out Iraqi air force headquarters in the centre of the capital.

Her family of 13 -- 10 of them children -- is today crammed into the small room she rents for 50,000 dinars (40 dollars, 30 euros) a month from an alleged landlord who probably has no legal right over the public building.

"He told us he was the owner, that he had bought the ground. We're frightened he'll kick us out if we don't pay," said Salman, enveloped in the black abaya. She is 43, but already she looks like an old woman.

Surrounded by other families in a similar predicament, Salman picks a living amid the ruins left when US warplanes bombed the base in 2003. There is no electricity and only a single tap outside on the pavement for water.

Frightened about being turfed out by the council, she prefers not to make problems. "If we don't live here, there's no where else to go," she said.

Her family is so poor that none of her children goes to school.

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