I begin to write the story of my journey from Baghdad to Boston, in the state of Massachusetts in the United States. My name is Thaer Shafiq Ali Abdallah. I am Palestinian in nationality, born in Iraq on February 8, 1970. I was born in the neighborhood of Karrada Dakhil in Baghdad. I am an artist and I worked in human rights in our wounded Baghdad after April 2003. When the U.S. troops entered Baghdad, chaos spread across the land and we felt a complete loss of safety, with killing and looting, and robberies in the streets. After one year of chaos, I began to feel a special danger for my people and my family, the Palestinians who have been in Iraq since 1948.
In 1948, Palestinians in Haifa were forced from their homes by Al Hajana, a Zionist militia. Queen Alia of Jordan at the time had influence in Iraq, and she promised to take care of the Palestinians who fled Haifa at that time, who numbered 5,000 refugees. She said that the war would last one or two weeks, and then the Palestinians could return to their homes in Palestine. My mother used to tell me stories about the days when they fled Haifa. She was about 11 years old. She had a Jewish neighbor, who begged them not to leave Palestine and not to trust Abu Abdallah, the King of Jordan, whom she said would betray them. She was crying when she asked my mother’s family not to leave. But they were afraid of the militias, so they fled. My family’s fate was to live in Iraq, where the Palestinian refugees were not recorded nor supported by UNRWA. UNRWA is responsible for Palestinian refugees, but only those who were displaced to Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon. There was an agreement in those days between UNRWA and the government of Iraq. T he Iraqi government promised to treat the Palestinian refugees as guests and that the government would take care of them. So the Palestinians in Iraq were never registered with UNRWA.