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Astronomy grad turns domestic help in Delhi

india Updated: Aug 24, 2007 05:49 IST
Naziya Alvi

Roaa Sardan Mohammad, 27, wanted to become a scientist. Instead, she is now working as a domestic help in Vasant Vihar, Rs 500 per month and a few kilograms of rice being the fruits of her labour. Why? Ask George W Bush who decided to invade her country Iraq, and in the process, kill her dreams.

A year ago, Roaa, a graduate in astronomy from Baghdad University, came to New Delhi with her family, as refugees. She knew the city, having studied at Jamia Milia University some years ago.

Living in abject poverty, they were not being able to pay rent for their one-room house. Finally last Wednesday the landlord threw them out.

Since then Roaa and her family have been sitting outside the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) at Jor Bagh, hoping to get their lives back.

Roaa’s 61-year-old father lost his right hand to a bullet in battle-scarred Iraq; her mother’s health is in bad shape and her 14-year-old younger sister is scared. The elder brother died in a terrorist attack back home.

The UNHCR, her last hope, seems to be inert to her woes. “They say my case is not strong enough… it may take 2-3 years to settle it,” said Roaa, who is now determined to sit outside the office till her case is taken up. She is also planning to hold a protest rally with other refugees.

The UNHCR said no timeframe can be given to a refugee for resettlement. “There are a few Afghans who are here for over 20 years and are still waiting for relief,” a spokesperson said.