AL-ANBAR PROVINCE, Iraq – A large group of Sudanese refugees living in tents here were visited by a group of friendly faces Aug. 25.
Marines and sailors with 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 5 visited the community of Sudanese refugees near Al Waleed, Iraq, which is on the Iraq-Jordan border, to provide them with healthcare Aug. 25.
“It was a rewarding feeling to provide care to people who have gone through so much,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class George C. Fricke, a corpsman with Headquarters and Service Company, 2nd LAR Bn. “They are good people, but they’re in a bad predicament right now, so they need someone like us to help them.”
During the visit, the service members cared for more than 200 patients in the community. One by one, the people saw a doctor to be treated for sicknesses ranging from eye infections to the flu.
“I feel very happy about the Coalition forces coming here to care for me and my people,” said Abrahim Habioun, 44, who came from Darfur, Sudan. “We feel a lot safer with them and the Iraqi Highway Police around because of their protection and assistance.”
The Sudanese refugees originally came to Baghdad, Iraq, approximately 20 years ago to pursue a better education and jobs to help their families. According to members of the community, after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the people fled to Jordan in fear of violence, only to be forced back to Iraq to live in the desert.
“We gathered together to leave the country because the situation was horrible in Baghdad and the rest of the country,” said Whalid Salih, 17, a Sudanese refugee who was born in Baghdad. “We thought that leaving the country we would be safe, but we don’t live in fear anymore.”
It’s been three years since the people have set up the camp next to a highway in western al-Anbar province. Since the beginning of their residency, the community has been visited and supported on a regular basis by the Iraqi Army, Iraqi Highway Patrol and Coalition forces. The community is slated to be relocated to a more established and safer area in the future.
“They’re grateful and never ask or expect anything from us,” said Fricke, 25, from St. Augustine, Fla. “I love seeing the smile on the people’s faces, especially the children’s. It’s a gratifying feeling.”