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Iraqi Refugee Starts Charity to Improve Reproductive Health

14th December, 2010 - Posted by Tex Dworkin - 2 Comments

Entisar (l) and Rae (r) in London

The following is a letter written by Code PINK’s Rae Abileah to her fellow activists about her recent reunion with Entisar Ariabi during the Russell Tribunal on Palestine held in London.

I met up with Entisar while in London for the Russell Tribunal on Palestine shortly before Thanksgiving. It was really great to see her after four years had passed. For those who do not know about Entisar, she was one of 6 women who CODEPINK sponsored to come to the US for a national speaking tour about the reality of the US occupation in Iraq in the spring of 2006.

Shortly after Entisar returned home to Baghdad her brother was killed.  During the fall of 2006 Entisar felt that her daughter’s lives were in danger, so she fled with them and whatever they could fit into a suitcase to Amman, Jordan.  She has since immigrated to England and has been able to get all 4 of her daughters and husband to London.  Her two older daughters are in medical school in Glasgow now and her two younger daughters are still in school in London.  Her son lives in Australia and her sister is in the Netherlands.  This is the scattering of her now refugee family.

Since leaving Iraq, Entisar took off her head scarf. She said she doesn’t want to be looked at like a terrorist suspect when she rides the Tube (London  subway).

This year Entisar co-founded an organization called The Cancer & Birth Defects Foundation, a UK based charity that aims to improve the health of pregnant women and their babies and families through scientific research and consultancy. Entisar explained to me that because of depleted uranium and other unknown chemical weapons the US used in Fallujah, there is an unprecedented rate of birth defects, miscarriages, and cancer diagnosis.

You can read more about The Cancer & Birth Defects Foundation’s work here.

Entisar is appealing to us for support with this project. The photos on their brochure of stillborn babies and birth defects are horrifying.  One quote from the brochure reads:

“…Women are now being advised not to have children.  To turn a blind eye now would surely make us all complicit.”
- Dr Wilson, member of the Scottish Parliament

My hope is that this is a project many CODEPINKers and Global Exchange supporters embrace and support.

While in London I had an opportunity to meet several of Entisar’s friends, all Iraqis with former outstanding careers who have relocated to Iraq in the aftermath of the invasion.  The wake of the (still ongoing) war leaves a wreckage of incomprehensible proportions.  What will we do to continue to shine a spotlight on Iraq and the Iraqi people in Iraq and in the refugee diaspora and keep pressure on our government to take responsibility for the damages?

In solidarity,

Rae can be emailed at: codepink.rae[@]

2 Responses to “Iraqi Refugee Starts Charity to Improve Reproductive Health”

  • Entisar
    You will be aware of the problems of birth defects in North Africa and the middle east. I have been doing research into reducing the incidence of such births, with some surprising results, as well as success, but finding funding is a great problem. Does anyone have any ideas. We are a UK registered and based charity working in the middle east.


  • Excellent topic. Rather than finding the cure to cancer and birth defects in Iraq, maybe we should firstly get to the source of the problem … chemical weapon testing.

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