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Defiance: How one Syrian Kurdish refugee defies his disability

Published: Updated:

About 7500 refugees live in Gawilan camp in the Kurdish governorate in Iraq. They are mostly Syrian Kurds who fled the fighting in northern Syria and sought refuge in Iraq.

Abdullah, also known as Belind or “high place” in Kurdish, is one of those refugees. He has been living with his family in Gawilan since 2013 after fleeing their hometown in Qamishli. But Belind is no ordinary refugee. He was born without legs.

Despite his condition, he braved the long road and steep hills to cross into safety in Kurdistan. In the camp, and just like in Syria, he defies his disability with an inspiring energy: A former weightlifting champion, he trains young refugees in the camp to weightlift, he also plays football and Ping-Pong, and gives dancing classes. His dream is to go to the United States where he can get treatment and continue his education.

UNHCR is working on putting Belind on a resettlement list so he can get treatment overseas.