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Prayers for family facing threat of war

PUBLISHED: 18:00 27 December 2002 | UPDATED: 13:15 03 March 2010

THIS Christmas is a time of mixed emotions for Sara Yildirm.

Although she is spending it with Turkish husband Metin and 18-month-old daughter Ronayi, her thoughts will be with her family in Northern Iraq.

THIS Christmas is a time of mixed emotions for Sara Yildirm.

Although she is spending it with Turkish husband Metin and 18-month-old daughter Ronayi, her thoughts will be with her family in Northern Iraq.

Sara fled her country and family in fear of her life. She believes Saddam Hussein must be deposed and is terrified for her family at the thought of war.

Both Sara and Metin are Kurds. They met in Britain where they married just over two years ago. They are Moslems, but have celebrated Christmas by taking the day off from their Austin Road shop.

Sara said: "We celebrate New Year as well. If I was in Iraq we would be having parties as they do here. Every family makes it special."

But with tears in her eyes Sara tells how she does not believe it will be a happy Christmas for her father and two sisters. Her mother died from a liver cancer which Sara believes is a result of chemical bombing that the family endured in Northern Iraq in 1998-99.

The 30-year-old said: "I am sure it is not going to be a happy Christmas there.

"They're thinking about when they can escape or when they are going to die."

Sara's younger sister is 24 and is paralysed.

She can barely recall life in Iraq before all the troubles started as she was only a little girl, but remembers some happiness.

Sara said: "It was like the way the Europeans live in Europe now, but it was better because there were no economic problems – it was like heaven really."

It will be three years in January since Sara finally fled the country, paying agents lots of money to get her out and travelling in a container lorry, eventually being dumped somewhere in England. To this day she does not know where she was.

The lorry driver alerted the police to them being there and they were then taken to London.

Although she had a degree in biology, Sara has to start again in England and has been studying human biology at college.

She has seen horrific things and now as an interpreter for other asylum seekers she has learned the barbaric evil that many others have witnessed.

Sara said: "Because we are Kurds we were treated as second class. Even if you work within the government you are still second class.

"I saw villages burning and people killed. Saddam used poison gas, but we were not allowed to tell anyone it was him.

"They said that we had to say it was Iran because we were at war with Iran."

In 1991, millions of people escaped from Northern Iraq leaving some areas as ghost towns.

Cynthia Capey from Suffolk Inter-Faith Resources has always been a rock for Sara.

Cynthia said: "When Sara first came here she was in a terrible state. She always wore black which expressed how she felt. Since she met Metin she realised she had a future."

Sara and Metin are praying that war does not start.

Sara said: "Because I left family behind it is very difficult for me being here.''

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