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Jordan: The pain of exile

Matthew Hay Brown, for the Pulitzer Center
Amman, Jordan

Back home in Baghdad, Najim Abid Hajwal owned a sheepskin factory. He had a house in the fashionable Al Mansour neighborhood and a farm where he raised chickens and grew oranges and lemons.

I met Hajwal this morning at a clinic run by the Catholic charity Caritas in East Amman. He was clutching an envelope containing X-rays taken of his 16-year-old son, who had fallen off a roof while attempting to adjust a satellite dish.

The hospital here is charging 2,000 Jordanian dollars to treat Abdullah. That's more than $2,800. Hajwal, who sold his BMW a few months back for cash to pay rent and buy groceries, had come to Caritas to ask for help.

"I had 30 employees in Iraq," he said. "We exported our sheepskin to Italy and Turkey.

"Now look at me. I'm asking for aid."

As they share details of their physical and financial hardships, refugees here have also been describing the psychological pain of exile. Violence in Iraq has forced a once-prosperous middle class to flee for a country in which they have no legal status, are not allowed to work and must rely on handouts to survive.