Iraqi couple celebrate wedding by donating to refugees

Infant baby formulas and blankets were distributed to the 225 families from Anbar, who are now residing in a refugee camp in Baghdad

Dina al-Shibeeb

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An Iraqi couple decided to cap off their five-year love story and wedding not with a honeymoon – but by donating aid to 225 families displaced from the province of Anbar.

Veterinarian Mustafa al-Soufi, 26, and his wife Alla Malath, a 24-year-old biologist, made their charitable act on Oct. 10, following their wedding the day before.

“The first batch constituted of winter blankets and infant baby formula,” Soufi told Al Arabiya News.

The items were distributed to the 225 families from Anbar, who are now residing in a refugee camp in the Ghazaliya district of Baghdad. Each infant received a carton containing 24 milk bottles.

“Most of the items we distributed with our hands; we were scared that the residents of the camp wouldn’t receive them,” Soufi said.

Some residents complained to Soufi that the administration of the camp had been taking some of the governmental aid meant to be channeled to them. The administration of the camp however dismissed these claims.

“The administration described these complainers as liars,” Soufi said. “Anyway, the camp is in a very bad situation. Most of the families live in tents with straw mats to cover the ground. Some families own almost nothing.”

The groom decided to deliver the aid to Ghazaliya after visiting different refugee camps and deciding which was most in need of help.

In June, Lise Grande, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, said violence triggered by the conflict with Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) had forced nearly three million Iraqis from their homes.

Thousands of people from Anbar left in April after ISIS extended its offensive to capture more Iraqi territories. The Islamist militants continue to control Iraq’s second-largest city of Mosul after they waged an offensive there in June last year.

With the United Nations scrambling to get more aid for Iraqis and their counterparts in Syria, and with Iraq grappling with its budget deficit and corruption, Soufi and his wife are vowing to deliver a second batch of aid.

This “will be much bigger and will not only involve us. It will constitute medical services and education books,” he said.

Soufi did not want to disclose how much he and his wife had spent on the items they purchased. “Humanitarian issues cannot be valued with money and numbers at all,” he said.

But on his Facebook page, he wrote a status saying that his “darling” bride let go all of the wedding’s expenses to buy these aid items in preparation of the cold winter.