Shamal Salih, an Islamic Relief aid worker, reports on the situation facing Syrians that have fled to conflict-torn Iraq.
As the world reflects on the four year anniversary of the start of the crisis in Syria, refugee families in Iraq face a precarious situation. Fleeing the war in their own country, they are now seeking safety in a country which is itself experiencing one of the most grave humanitarian situations in the world today.
Syria’s refugees have escaped a war zone, only to face the impact of a complex conflict inside Iraq. The country is witnessing one of the largest waves of internal displacement in its modern history, leaving scant resources to assist the influx of refugees in urgent need of support. It is a dilemma, but they have nowhere else to go.
A tough situation made even harder
About 215,000 refugees, mostly living in Iraqi-Kurdistan, are still enduring harsh winter conditions that are making a tough situation even harder. Islamic Relief has provided winter items such as blankets and heaters, as well as food parcels to help stave off cold and hunger – but so much more is needed.
A man I met in one of the refugee camps here in Iraq summed up the situation with haunting eloquence. At home in Syria, his village home was shelled and his leg injured. He could barely walk but he managed to flee and make the hazardous journey to cross the border to Iraq. By the time he reached the camp, his leg had deteriorated to such a degree that doctors had to amputate it. He buried his leg in the camp.
“We Syrians had to bury a lot of things in the refugee camp,” he told me. “Our joy. Our hope. I think I buried myself there, not just my leg.”
Help to cope and hope is needed
Islamic Relief Iraq is working hard to support Syrian refugees living in the camps of Iraqi-Kurdistan. We assist in camp management, and offer education, health and psychosocial support as part of our response to the Syrian crisis. Refugee families are in acute need of food, hygiene kits and clothing – but what they and the people of Iraq need most of all is peace and an end to this suffering. We all call for peace.
Islamic Relief is helping Syrian refugees in Iraq to win the fight against the cold, poverty, hunger and destruction of their futures. But, with no end to the fighting yet in sight, many people continue to depend on our help – here in Iraq, inside Syria, and other nearby countries in which Islamic Relief is offering a lifeline to those that have lost everything in the conflict.
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