Behind every report of sectarian violence that comes out of Iraq, there are painful
Murtada, five, is one of the countless ordinary people who have paid a terrible
price for the ongoing violence. He is from Baghdad and, in happier times, he lived
with his parents and an older brother and sister.
In August 2004, he was going with his father to the market when they were caught
in an explosion. They survived, but Murtada suffered severe burns all over his body.
He was only three-years-old at the time.
He was taken to hospital, but his injuries were serious. He had lost three-quarters
of his skin and suffered blood poisoning. The doctors kept him in hospital for a
month before allowing him to return home, but within a few days he relapsed and
was back in hospital.
Nine days later, a large explosion rocked the hospital and all the patients were
evacuated. Murtada had to return home to continue his treatment there.
He recovered eventually, but with large patches of deformed skin all over his body.
Two years passed, and Baghdad's violence raged on. In February 2007, armed men stormed
into Murtada’s house at midnight and kidnapped his father. The next morning, his
body was found in the street, riddled with bullets. There were signs of torture.
Even after his father's death, Murtada's family continued to be threatened with
violence and so they fled their home. The family moved to his grandmother's small
house in a safer part of town, leaving all their possessions behind.
Seeing his father die such a brutal death and then being forced out of his home
has affected his mental state. "Murtada has become very aggressive," says his mother.
Murtada's mother struggles to provide for the family. She suffers from heart disease
and needs medication. They now live in abject poverty. They have lost their breadwinner,
their house, and all their belongings.
Islamic Relief is working with Murtada and his family. "When I met him he seemed
playful," says Islamic Relief's orphan officer in Iraq, "but you could sense a deep
sadness beneath the surface."
The family has no livelihood and Murtada still needs more treatment for his wounds.
Islamic Relief has arranged sponsorship for Murtada. The sponsorship will supplement
the family's income and help with his treatment.
Find out more about Islamic Relief's
Orphan Sponsorship programme
Find out more about Islamic Relief in Iraq