Emad Al-Hamadani was born in Iraq and came to Britain to study, before being granted asylum in 1982. He talks about not having contact with his parents and how the international sanctions against Iraq stopped him sending eye-drops to his father.
Listen to Emad (mp3, 770kb)
'We cut off all our links, fearing our safety of our families in Iraq. Later on I began to learn about their stories, what happened to them.
'The first contact, telephone, which I made to Iraq, my father was on the telephone. When I did mention how’s my mother, my mum - "oh", he says, "died five years ago". I said "what", he said "yes, your mum died five years ago". Can you imagine? He said it as if it was something normal, after five years you know. It was a sad moment for me, to hear that my mum passed away without me seeing her…
'At that time it was the sanctions, the economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations on Iraq, on everything except medicine and food. And one day my father, he asked me to send him some eye drops. He had some inflammation in his eyes and the doctor prescribed some simple eye drops, antibiotic eye drops, which is £2 here, you find in any chemist.
'So I bought it for him and I sent it by post. A couple of weeks later I received a letter from the post office here. They returned that item in the envelope, saying that the DTI, the Department of Trade, "because of the boycott on Iraq, your eye drops is not reaching Iraq, not allowed". I said "look, look, this is a medicine, being exempt", they said "yes".
'I phoned the department here in London, the sanction department, they told me "however the medicine is exempt from the sanction, but you have to fill forms". I said "look, this is a simple eye drop, less than £2".'
Copyright Evelyn Oldfield Unit