Displaced Iraqi women turn to handicrafts for survival

In a small classroom that has been turned into a workshop, women work away busily to make some vital income for their loved ones. (AFP)
Updated 27 January 2018

Displaced Iraqi women turn to handicrafts for survival

SAMARRA: Threading beads onto a fishing line to make a sparkling ornament, Lamia Rahim is one of dozens of Iraqi women displaced by violence who have turned to handicrafts to support their families.
“It has been some time since we were displaced and my husband can’t find work,” said the mother of four.
“It was down to me to take care of the family.”
Rahim, 41, is part of a local initiative set up to help families who fled terrorists and settled in a school in the city of Samarra, 100 km north of Baghdad.
In classrooms that have been turned into workshops, women in headscarves work away busily to make some vital income for their loved ones.
“A hundred and twenty-five women have been trained in crafts, including making bead miniatures,” said local radio presenter Iman Ahmad, 51, who set up the project a year ago.
The crafts the women make have already sold at some local fairs and exhibitions and supporters regularly stop by to bring some assistance.
Ahmad says each month the collective manages to make around $1,000 — a sum that is quickly divided up between all the members.
Among the bead mementoes the women make are miniatures of the Samarra’s famed spiral minaret, the famed Ishtar Gate that stood at the entrance to ancient Babylon, and even the Eiffel Tower. “They help us to live,” said Khawla Jarallah, who fled her village near the city of Tikrit when jihadists seized it three years back.

Bitter legacy
The International Organization for Migration estimates that some 2.5 million people remain displaced in Iraq, even as more than 3.2 million have returned to their homes.
Many were uprooted by the Daesh’s 2014 rampage across the country and the subsequent bloody fight to push it back.
Now the terrorists have been defeated in Iraq, but the bitter legacy of their rise, and the years of violence that swept the country after the 2003 US-led invasion, remain.
A sewing machine whirs away in another room in the school where Fawziya Azzaws sits surrounded by colorful fabric.
She has always loved sewing and now she can turn her passion to her family’s benefit — just when they need it the most.
Organizer Ahmad said the work also helps “kill the boredom” of life far from home.
“It is from boredom that problems arise,” she said.
Shifa Qaduri, 40, agrees that the initiative is vital for the women both in terms of income and “hope” — even if life is still a daily struggle.
“The money we receive is not enough to pay for my children’s school,” she said.
“But where can we go? We carry on living thanks to hope. At the moment we may make $25, but maybe soon it will be $50 or $100.”

Pressure grows in US for firm response to Iran after Aramco attacks 

Updated 26 min 58 sec ago

Pressure grows in US for firm response to Iran after Aramco attacks 

  • Senator Lindsey Graham urges retaliatory strikes on Iranian oilfields if Tehran continues ‘provocations’
  • UN Secretary General urged for calm and called on both sides to ‘exercise restraint’

WASHINGTON: An American senator has called for Washington to consider an attack on Iranian oil facilities as pressure grows in the US for a firm response to the Saudi Aramco strikes.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for the drone attacks on Saturday against the Abqaiq oil processing plant and the Khurais oil field. He also suggested that unlike previous drone and missile attacks on the Kingdom, this one may not have been launched from Yemen by the Iran-backed Houthis. Reports have said that the attack may have originated in Iraq where Iran also holds sway over a large number of powerful militias.

“It is now time for the US to put on the table an attack on Iranian oil refineries if they continue their provocations or increase nuclear enrichment,” Lindsey Graham, a Republican senator close to Donald Trump, said on Twitter.

“Iran will not stop their misbehavior until the consequences become more real, like attacking their refineries, which will break the regime’s back.”

Iran on Sunday denied it was behind the attack, but the Yemeni Houthi militia backed by Tehran, claimed they had launched them. 

The White House on Sunday did not rule out a potential meeting between President Donald Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, even after Washington accused Iran of being behind drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities.

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said the attacks “did not help” prospects for a meeting between Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during the United Nations General Assembly this month but she left open the possibility it could happen.

"You're not helping your case much," by attacking Saudi Arabia, civilian areas and critical infrastructure that affects global energy markets.” Conway told the Fox News Sunday program.

The Trump administration's sanctions and “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran over its nuclear and ballistic missile program will continue whether or not the two leaders meet, she added.

The US ramped up pressure on Iran last year after trump withdrew from an international pact to curb Iran’s nuclear program.

Washington has reimposed a tough sanctions regime on Tehran, which it accuses of hiding behind the nuclear deal to advance its missiles program and aggressive foreign policy in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, condemnation of the attacks continued from around the world.

Kuwait's emir telephoned King Salman on Sunday to express his condemnation of the attack.

Secretary General Antonio Guterres condemned the attack and called upon all parties to exercise maximum restraint to prevent any escalation.

King Salman also received a telephone call from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas expressing his deep condemnation.
Abbas affirmed that the Palestinian government and people stand with the Kingdom to confront these terrorist acts of aggression.

UK foreign minister Dominic Raab said the attack was a “reckless attempt to damage regional security and disrupt global oil supplies.”

The European Union warned of a “real threat to regional security” in the Middle East.

*With Reuters