14 May 2013
Christian Aid communications officer, Antoinette Powell, recently visited northern Iraq where she met Nasrin, a refugee who escaped the conflict in Syria just days before.
Nasrin, who arrived in Baynjan recently with her husband, 12-year-old triplets and younger son, left Aleppo, northwest Syria after spending two days in the hallway of their home, sheltering from bombs falling nearby.
She looked terrified and hopelessly lost, standing by a tent in alien surroundings, just three days after she was forced to leave her home for northern Iraq.
Nasrin's family have just a rug, a small blanket and enough rice for one meal. Unable to see any hope for the future, she struggles to process the situation they have found themselves in.
More than 800 people arrive in northern Iraq each day with fresh tales of destruction.
A temporary, settled life
Antoinette met Farhad, who arrived in northern Iraq from Syria 14 months ago. He told her that he found a job tiling quickly.
His employer, impressed with his work, kindly lent him money for bricks. This meant he could build a small home out of breeze blocks. Three months after arriving, his family joined him. Farhad has worked hard to make a home for four children - even if it is only temporary.
Today, Farhad and his wife Khadija play a valuable role helping new arrivals to find shelter and provide supplies to help see them through until they can access official help.
‘The problem is we have no guarantees. Everything we do is based on debts. We don’t have security for problems.’
But for all their hard work and the support they give each other, Farhad and Khadija, and many other refugees like them, continue to live on a knife edge.
Desperate to return to Syria, they do not know when or if it will be safe to do so. Nor do they have a guarantee of how long international support for refugees will last.
Antoinette arrived in Arbat on the outskirts of Sulaimaniya late in the day, where staff from REACH distributed the last remaining emergency kits for refugees from Syria. The atmosphere was calm.
REACH staff carefully checked each family’s registration documents before handing over jerry cans to collect water and buckets filled with essential sanitary items including soap, toothpaste and washing powder.
The only official refugee camp in Dohuk is overcrowded. Many people have travelled further, to places like Arbat and Baynjan around Sulaimaniya, or to Erbil, where they have been left with no choice but to settle in urban locations and makeshift shelters.
We need your help
Christian Aid partner REACH is working in informal refugee settlements around Sulaimaniya, providing essential items such as food and hygiene kits to 1,500 refugee families. Please give and help us to continue this vital work.