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Inside Iraq: Palace of the Poor: Mosul

Palace of the poor: Mosul Iraq

Saddam Hussein’s northernmost presidential palace at Mosul now houses some of Iraq’s poorest citizens

When Amjad Mutar’s family was kicked out of their modest home they ended up living in the grounds of a palace.


Amjad Mutar adjusts to life in a post-Saddam Iraq.

Alas, their new quarters are anything but palatial. The family squat in former guard quarters at what was once a vast complex of luxury dwellings built for the benefit of tyrant Saddam Hussein.

The palace buildings themselves are now stripped down shells, daubed with graffiti that lambastes Saddam for his excesses and his cruelty. Only the sweeping staircases, broken glass from enormous chandeliers, and ornate door-frames hint at something that was once grand.

The guard’s quarters did not escape the ransacking. Hence 10 year old Amjad sits on an old bed frame in a bare room. His accomodation is devoid of essentials like running water, toilets and electricity. Nearby are rounds of unexploded ordnance ready to attract the curiosity and dismember unwary children. Fortunately Amjad is too smart for that.

“I don’t touch them,” he says of the shells and rockets that litter the palace grounds.

He says he came here with his father, sister and mother because they could not afford the rent of their former home in Tanac – a poor quarter of Mosul.

“My father does not have a job right now,” he explains, “He was a builder but there is no work.”

Their family joins dozens of others living in the palace grounds. World Vision is currently registering them, alongside other homeless living in abandoned and looted buildings around the city of Mosul. The agency will assist them with food and other essential supplies.

Amjad thinks his family’s biggest need right now is gas. At the moment they are gathering dead wood to make a fire for cooking. Apart from that, he says, the hardest thing is missing his mates.

“I was happier at home because my friends were there,” he says.

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