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‘My damp flat brings back memories of Iraq’

Sharmin Ali survived a chemical bombing attack that killed thousands of her fellow Kurds in Halabja, Iraq.

28 January, 2019 — By Calum Fraser

A REFUGEE mother says the neverending damp in her flat brings back memories of her horrific experiences in Iraq.

Sharmin Ali survived a chemical bombing attack that killed thousands of her fellow Kurds in Halabja, Iraq, before being granted asylum in this country in 2003.

The mother-of-two said: “The smell and feel of the damp bring back the memories of Iraq, truly. It’s so, so terrible. My bedroom was so bad I had to move out for six years. We have had it washed off a few times but it keeps coming back.”

She said she was not convinced that the change of management at the estate will help her in her battle to move away from the creeping damp in her flat.

Day-to-day repairs in the estate have been led by the Barnsbury Estate Local Management Organisation (Belmo) since 1994.

Landlords Newlon were in charge of rent, transfers and any major works. But Newlon is taking over Belmo’s duties on February 1 to become the sole point of contact for any issues residents may have.

Ms Ali said: “I have been suffering for 15 years and I don’t think this change is going to make much of a difference.

“I have been a second-class citizen my whole life. We were forced to see terrible things when we grew up. Things I will never forget.

“I am so grateful to the UK for taking me in and helping me. I don’t want to be a problem. But living here is a nightmare.

“The damp is constant and it is causing me and my son’s health problems.”

Ms Ali’s son Daryan Baker, 17, suffers from asthma.

A Newlon spokesman said: “We believe we will be able to provide an improved service when we take over direct management of the estate on February 1. We are committed to investing significantly to improve the condition of stock on the Barnsbury estate and will be consulting widely with residents on the best way to do so in the near future.”

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