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I’m asking BP to take its share of responsibility for my son’s death, and will take it to UK court if I have to | Hussein Julood
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I’m asking BP to take its share of responsibility for my son’s death, and will take it to UK court if I have to | Hussein Julood

A year has passed since my beautiful boy Ali Julood died. Not a day goes by when I do not think of him smiling and playing football with his friends outside. Those days are gone. As a father, that gives me great pain.

Ali was diagnosed with leukaemia at the age of 15. The cancer caused him to drop out of school, leave his football team and spend years undergoing painful medical treatment. He died at the age of 21 on 21 April 2023.

Ali grew up in Rumaila, Iraq, inside one of the biggest oilfields in the world. BP, which runs the field, has released statements saying that it has “never been the operator” of the oilfield. But the facts are clear. BP held the biggest stake in the operator organisation for the oilfield, known as the Rumaila Operating Organization, and it has described itself as the “lead contractor” at the field.

Imagine walking outside your house every day to the thick stench of burning tyres. Imagine that smoke seeps into everything you own, and comes inside your house, choking your small children while they sleep. This is our life.

We see the flares burning in the sky at night from our home. Thick black smoke during the day. If you want to witness what hell will be like, come to Rumaila and you can live the reality.

Cancer is like the flu here, it affects everybody. As a father, you want to be able to protect your children from harm. You want to hold them and tell them everything will be OK. Here, that is impossible. My heart aches every day that I could not protect him from this.

Flames emerge from a pipeline at Rumaila oilfield, Iraq.View image in fullscreen

Yes, he fought against his illness. How bravely he fought. I am proud of him. I will always be proud of him. But the toxins were strong and the cancer was vicious. I sold our house, furniture and belongings to pay for his care and his burial. The black smoke and pollution has taken nearly everything from me and is stripping the life from our community.

What we are asking here is for BP to take responsibility. It is happy to gain the financial benefits from selling the oil. I’ve seen reports that BP made profits of $358m (US Dollars) from the Rumaila field in 2020 alone. The BP chief executive personally made £8m in 2023.

I sent a letter to BP earlier this week seeking damages over Ali’s death. But the case is more important than this. I am hoping for the help of the good people and those in charge. I am hoping they feel the call of a fellow human. I am hoping that one day, they live up to their promise to clean our air.

BP says it is an honourable company, but for now all I see is thick smoke that carries their shame into every house.

Ali’s favourite place was a small garden inside our house. He loved nature, and wished all other children could enjoy playing and breathing freely outside. Look at your loved ones when you see them tonight, and imagine what it is like not to be able to protect them.

Look at them and hug them tightly. Life is so very precious. That is why I am standing up and asking BP to take its share of the responsibility. That is what a responsible company does, but hand on heart, I cannot say BP looks or acts like a company that cares about anything other than making money.

  • Hussein Julood (Abu Ali) is 54 years old, he is married with nine daughters and two sons surviving after Ali. ⁠He moved to Rumaila in the early 1990s

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Source: theguardian.com