Living in an Iraq Still at War, Five Years Later

Since the Iraq war began five years ago, Saleem Amer, a member of NPR's staff in Iraq, has shared stories about the joys and obstacles his family has encountered. A few years into the war, Amer became a husband and then, a father. Last year, he and his family decided to move out of their home — a house his father had built — because the neighborhood was too dangerous.

Amer tells Renee Montagne that his new neighborhood is safer in some ways.

"Nothing in Baghdad is safe, truly," he says. "Regarding IEDs and car bombs, it's everywhere. ... But regarding sectarian problems, no. It's a majority Christian neighborhood. It's safer than my old neighborhood."

Amer has lived in the neighborhood since last spring, but he says it still doesn't feel like home.

He says he lost all his friends and the people he grew up with. "Truly, I didn't feel like I am home."

Amer says the security situation in his old neighborhood is improving, however, which could allow his family to move back in the next few months.

"The American forces just started to understand the Iraqi society and how to deal with it and all these facts just helped to put, you know, a better security situation than what we used to have the last year," he says.

Before his son's birth, Amer said in an audio letter on Morning Edition: "Why would I want to bring an innocent child into a bloody, savage world? I don't. I regret what I did. I got my wife pregnant in Baghdad."

Amer says he still has that feeling. "I still [regret] getting married at the beginning because the situation is still difficult over here and life is very difficult. You know, I'm in the street all the time, so I don't want to leave a wife and a son behind me, truly. So I'm still having that feeling, but sometimes I'm trying to convince myself that the situation is better, but so far it's still the same, you know. ...

"As Iraqis, the future for us is not more than a week, maybe, you know, because you cannot ensure your life after that."

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