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Kurdish Syrians Battle Squalor, Indifference in Iraq

To date, 70,000 Syrian citizens have fled to refugee camps in Iraqi Kurdistan and languished. Though the majority of the evacuees are from Syria’s Kurdish cities, the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, has done very little to accommodate the growing numbers.

Written by Meer Ako Ali Published on Read time Approx. 1 minutes

In late January, I visited a camp in the green, mountainous Bazyan area of Kurdistan. Children of all ages flocked around with Sponge Bob goody bags that they had received.

The majority of these refugees are from the Syrian city of Qamishli, a heavily Kurdish Syrian city near the Iraqi border. The camp holds nearly 70 families.

Dzhwar, once an English literature student in Syria, fled his country 20 months ago. He showed dissatisfaction at the lack of systematic aid from the KRG.

He said that when Kurdish refugees visited officials asking for help, they replied only with “inshallah,” meaning God willing.

Nechirvan, another refugee, expressed his frustration about the nature of the aid that does make it to the camp, mostly from small local NGOs and the UNHCR.

“All donations go to families, and almost none to the single men,” he said. “They ask the men to work, but the KRG has not issued them any official papers so that they can work.”

The refugees ask for medical care and schooling for their children. They want their children to continue their education. Many of them pointed me towards a nearby building that used to be a school — now occupied by the Komalla, an exiled Iranian Kurdish party, which uses the building for administrative purposes and as a training camp for its fighters.

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