They Can’t Go Home Again

  • Written by:

By Adam Doster
On a rainy March morning, in a drab office complex off one of Metro Detroit’s many expressways, I met Mona and Fadi Rabban.

In broken English, they greeted me graciously, keeping their heads slightly bowed. The diminutive Fadi was dressed in black jeans and a beat-up leather jacket. His beautiful middle-aged wife donned a thin, black cardigan and black slacks, which seemed less suitable for the Midwest winter.

Just six months earlier, the Rabbans had been in Jordan awaiting resettlement to the United States. Their arrival in America capped a journey that began in early 2006, when insurgents forced them to flee their Baghdad home.

Fadi, who was an accountant for 35 years, worked for a company that occasionally did business with American firms — which, in today’s Iraqi capital, is a dangerous venture. “When they send you a threat, you have to do [as they say], otherwise they will kill you,” he says. “They are serious about it, it’s not like a joke.”

In a war and occupation that has wrought innumerable, horrific consequences, the Iraqi refugee crisis is among the most disheartening. More than 4 million Iraqis — including the Rabbans — have been externally or internally displaced since the American invasion, and while their stories are ignored in much of the West, their forced migration constitutes a humanitarian and political crisis that has yet to be adequately addressed.