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The Palestinian community in Iraq — many of whose members have feared for their safety since Saddam Hussein’s ouster — is gaining more access to health care with a new medical clinic in eastern Baghdad.

The private clinic opened Nov. 17 with the help of embedded provincial construction team members and soldiers with the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, according to a news release issued by Multi-National Division-Baghdad.

Thousands of Palestinians fled to Iraq when Jewish forces took control of Haifa in 1948. Saddam, eager to boost his credentials in the Arab world, reportedly gave them financial support and other favors.

After Saddam was toppled, many Palestinians were forced out of their housing and became afraid to travel outside their enclave to receive medical treatment because of their ethnicity and because they’re Sunni. The new government is predominantly Shiite, and some Shiites are resentful of the special status the Palestinians had under Saddam. Other Palestinians fled to refugee camps near Syria.

Mohammed Tawfeeq, a local Palestinian leader, approached Company C, 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment to see whether an abandoned building in the neighborhood could be turned into a clinic.

The unit, in turn, turned to the Baghdad-2 e-PRT, which renovated the building.

The Ministry of Health has not supported the project, officials say, so Americans and Iraqis turned the clinic into a private, fee-for-service clinic.

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