Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Sara Salam (not her real name) has been working for a human rights organisation in Basra since 2003.

"We got many good things after the British Army came to the city such as feeling freedom in many ways," she said.

But Ms Salam says there are differing opinions among residents on the impact of the British presence.

Some people have "good things" to say as it has led to financial opportunities which have helped them to realise their "dreams".

But she added that others "will say bad things because in their view the British represent the sadness and stealing" of Iraq and "thousands of people can't find a job".

According to Ms Salam, 32, personal safety is still a concern for women despite statistics showing security has improved dramatically in the past year.

"Before 2003 I was able to go outside my house whenever I wanted... but now, I never go anywhere alone."

Another Basra resident, teacher Um Mahmood, 58, sees things differently.

"Women are now able to go out until late without fearing for their lives," she said.

"They are able to work in various sectors such as education and healthcare and they are doing so in increasingly large numbers."

But Ms Mahmood says British efforts to bring the situation in Basra under control was "neither very positive nor was it negative".

She said the situation improved after responsibility for security was taken on by UK-trained Iraqi forces in late 2007, which also coincided with a ceasefire between Shia militias.

"Prior to 2003, life was very difficult even for families with multiple sources of income. Salaries are very good now and anyone with appropriate qualifications is able to work," she added.

"When the British came to Basra I was apprehensive because they were foreigners imposing their authority in our country.

"In the future, they are going to be remembered positively because, essentially, they weren't bad people and were relatively helpful."

Interview with Ms Mahmood conducted by

No comments: