The Ibrahims: A family struggles to survive and to hope

UPDATE! With IRAP’s help, the Ibrahim’s have won their appeal and now live in Portland, OR.

The Ibrahims left their home to save their children. Their son Ibrahim was shopping with his mother in an open market when a terrorist car bomb exploded. The explosive shock wave struck him in the head, blinding him in one eye and possibly damaging his brain. When the smoke cleared, young Ibrahim never spoke again. Meanwhile, their daughter Tuhama suffers from a rare disease that causes her kidneys to fail every fifteen to twenty days. Each time Tuhama collapsed from kidney failure, the family had to run a gauntlet of insurgent checkpoints, bombings and gunfire to reach the hospital. Finally, with the situation already at the breaking point, an insurgent leader appeared at their door. If Mr. Ibrahim would not join his militia, he told them, they would be killed. They fled to Jordan, finding temporary refuge in an Amman slum.

Two weeks after arriving in Jordan, the Ibrahims registered as refugees with the United Nations and requested resettlement in the West. Ibrahim and Tuhama had medical conditions that could not be treated in Jordan, making resettlement the Ibrahim’s only chance to build a future for their children. At their resettlement interview, a US official asked Mr. Ibrahim what would happen if the family returned to Iraq. He said that he couldn’t be sure, but that they were likely to be killed. On this basis, the official decided that the Ibrahims could safely return to Iraq, and denied their request to be resettled as refugees.