“They (politicians) have destroyed the future of every young person here,” he said. “I’m just waiting for the first opportunity to get out of here.”
A U.N. report this week expected some Arab economies to shrink by up to 13% this year, compounding the suffering of those affected by armed conflict. Another 14.3 million people are expected to be pushed into poverty, raising the total number to 115 million — a quarter of the total Arab population.
Al-Diwani, the Iraqi pharmacist, has lived with war and instability all her life. She was in second grade in 2003 when dictator Saddam Hussein was toppled by invading U.S. troops and Iraq was plunged into years of sectarian blood-letting, and car bombings became a daily routine.
“I used to stay up at night, terrified especially without electricity,” she said.
Her more recent years were marked by the terror sowed by the Islamic State group, which seized nearly a third of the country in 2014.
In 2017, she met Assem at the University of Baghdad, where she was studying pharmacy. They fell in love and for a while the world seemed a better place.
They made plans together. She began working at a pharmacy in Baghdad but wanted to pursue her studies abroad and he was happy for her to fulfill her ambitions. She was accepted at the University of Huddersfield in West Yorkshire, England, for a post-graduate degree. Her parents were supportive and helped provide a budget for her travels, which she added to from money she made from her work.