Everything, but no refugee camps

by Sven Ramones/LKO,  2014/02/08

Sven Ramones from Traunstein has travelled to North Iraq for humedica, in order to manage the delivery of aid supplies for Syrian refugees. Thanks to the generous support of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, humedica and its partner organization REACH have been distributing food, sanitary articles and other durable goods to the refugees.

In his conversations with the people who had fled their country, moving human stories are being revealed, which the humedica coordinator wants to share with you today:

“For the nearly 22,000 Syrian refugees in the city Sulaimaniyah in the North of Iraq, the word homesickness has attained a completely new dimension. As so-called urban refugees, they have found refuge from the violence in Syria in this major city. Due to the war which seems to be endless, their home country has become a place out of reach.

In order to spare their families a life in a tent in the nearby refugee camp, many urban refugees are looking for work, to be able to lead a simple life in town. Their stories are evidence of the tragic fate they all share.

Najla: The fear of the cold

Najla and her four children are also urban refugees. Together with the grandparents and her brother’s family of four they live in three scanty rooms of an old house on the outskirts of Sulaimaniyah.

Worn mattresses on the floor and a rusty kerosene heater are the few things they own. A plastic foil under the ceiling provisionally protects of the rain which leaks through the roof.

Her house had been completely destroyed during a bomb attack on her home town Seraqani. Nearly all family members had been injured.

Her fear and the violence made her flee and first led her into one of the numerous camps for Syrian refugees in the North of Iraq.

Her eldest sons found jobs as craftsmen in Sulaimaniyah and a small flat for the family. “The money they earn is hardly enough to live. We depend on our neighbours’ support. Sometimes, they bring us food,” says grandfather Mustu.

Like many other refugees in the towns and in the camps, they nervously await the end of winter. In the mostly poorly insulated homes, they lack of heating material and of blankets for the whole family.

Myryam: Wish for peace

Myryam and her husband Omer are also urban refugees. Together with their seven children, the Syrian-Kurdish couple lives in a cellar room of only a few square meters, without any windows or heating. In order to pay for the rent, Omer must repeatedly borrow money from his work colleagues.

Three months ago, they arrived from Syrian Ar-Raqqah in Sulaimaniyah. They had fled their home country when militias started hunting and killing Kurds in their neighborhood systematically. Myryam’s cousin and her nephew had also been victims of these attacks. In the midst of the Kurds in the North of Iraq they feel safe, says Myryam.

Relatives in Sulaimaniyah helped the family to find work and a place to live. Myryam and Omer want to spare their children the life in a refugee camp. Myryam is convinced that, when she closes the door of the flat, her children are safe.

In a refugee camp this wouldn’t be possible. Myryam has no other wish but peace in her home country: “I don’t want any money or anything else. I just want to go back home.”

In the second part of the article, you will read about the refugee mother Zarah and her only remaining wish.

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