Abu Teif, 52, is a drug seller. Previously unemployed and living in poverty, he got into drug dealing to support his family - three children and a handicapped wife.
“In January 2006 we lost our house in Alawi District [Baghdad] as sectarian violence reached our neighbourhood and we had to move to the outskirts of Baghdad.
“Later, in March of the same year, my wife was shot in the leg by militants after they saw her not wearing a veil. Her leg had to be amputated. My eldest son was killed the following month, leaving a widow and three children.
“Unemployed, I could not find a way of supporting my family and so I turned to selling drugs.
“At the beginning it was like a miracle. It was easy work and I had a lot of clients and to be frank, I didn’t even know the effect of the drugs. I learned what the effect could be only after an addict tried to kill me to get heroin.”
“In June 2006 I started to see food in my home again. My grandchildren also started eating well and my wife was able to get proper treatment for her leg, but those glorious days soon ended.
“In October of the same year, the person who supplied us dealers with drugs told me that they were going to decrease my cut from two percent to one percent and I refused.
“I was beaten for over an hour. I was warned that if I didn’t continue selling the drugs, I would be killed together with my whole family.
“It was then that my nightmare started. I’ve never had peace since that day. I’m forced to work about 10 hours a day… The only money I get is the US$100 dollars that they give me a month. They tell me that the money is for my grandchildren, as I don’t deserve to eat.
“I don’t know how to escape this life… If I try to run away with my family they will find me.
“I started to do wrong [selling drugs] and now I’m paying the price.”
Drug abuse among Iraqi children on the rise
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions
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