25 Apr 2012

Helping Mohammed

There was quite a response to our Unreported World film last friday with the Baghdad Bomb Squad.

There was quite a response to our Unreported World film last friday with the Baghdad Bomb Squad. Many viewers got in touch asking specifically about Mohammed Jabbar and whether there was a way to help him. And now there is – through the British bomb disposal charity Felix Fund who have set up a Just Giving page for Mohammed and men like him.

As his friend Rawad told us during our filming Mohammed was always poor, and the other members of the unit are on ordinary, modest police salaries so cannot help.  Money could change Mohammed’s life in two ways – with his need for prosthetic limbs and his general living situation.

He told us that he would have to survive, and theoretically support his wife, kids and mother on a meagre police pension of around $200 a month. The cost of living in Baghdad is high – don’t be under any illusions that money goes much further over there than it does here. It isn’t Africa or Asia.

When it comes to prosthetics he says he has been given a “take it or leave it” by the medics the state paid for – and the heavy plastic leg is uncomfortable and painful. Getting new, electronic, hi-tech limbs is very expensive and probably not practical given the conditions Mohammed lives in. They also need maintenance which means difficult travel abroad. But there are modern quite simple prosthetic limbs which are not too complicated or expensive and which are much better than the device he has at the moment. That is a more realistic possibility. Even then it is unlikely Mohammed will ever get a usable prosthetic arm – experts here say they take much more complicated fitting and therapy to be useful. But a leg at least would, as Mohammed put it, allow him to walk with his kids and possibly let him get some sort of work.

As for compensation from the state it was something Mohammed’s commanding officers at the Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit base clearly felt awkward about. Although they said they still had hopes that a payment would one day be forthcoming it was clear those hopes were not high. And When I asked the government spokesman Ali Dabbagh why injured officers go uncompensated he bluntly said Iraq has many priorities and cannot afford to make payments to every injured person – even those who lost limbs while saving the lives of others.

Follow Krishnan on Twitter @krishgm