Archive for April 14th, 2012


Karem, the Iraqi Refugee Who Teaches Art to Other Refugees

Human Wrongs Watch

By Leo Dobbs, Choucha Transit Centre, Tunisia (UNHCR)* – Mohammed Karem wants to become a roving art teacher for refugees around the world. “I would like to travel with UNHCR or any other organization,” he says.

Karem holds a piece of art created by one of his students at the Choucha Transit Camp. © UNHCR/L.Dobbs

For now, the 55-year-old Iraqi is content to pass on his knowledge to other refugees in a desert camp near Tunisia’s main border crossing with Libya, where he worked for almost 15 years.

“They have a lot of time, so I try to give them something useful to do,” he explains. Their new skills could prove valuable in the future.

It’s a welcome respite for teacher and students alike from the hours and days of waiting for news about resettlement. Mohammed’s four adult children have been accepted by the United States, but he and his wife have heard nothing yet and are understandably concerned. Most of the people in Choucha are likely to be resettled, but not all. Moreover, the process can take months.

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