News / Middle East

Syrian Kurdish Refugees Fear Harsh Winter in Northern Iraq

Syrian Kurdish Refugees Fear Harsh Winter in Northern Iraqi
X
October 07, 2013 10:10 PM
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians, mostly Kurds, have fled into northern Iraq, many living in abandoned houses in the region’s capital. As Sebastian Meyer reports for VOA, they are now facing the prospect of battling harsh winter conditions.
Sebastian Meyer
— Hundreds of thousands of Syrians, mostly Kurds, have fled into northern Iraq, many living in abandoned houses in the region’s capital. They are now facing the prospect of battling harsh winter conditions.

It’s morning on the outskirts of Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. Aisha, a refugee from Syria, is cooking food for the four families that are squatting together in a half-built house. The house has no kitchen, so she cooks in a neighboring construction site, burning discarded wood to make bread.
Because the families don’t live in a refugee camp, they survive by eating food handed out by their neighbors.

While Aisha cooks, another woman sews scraps of fabric together to make children’s clothes.

"People don’t bring us food everyday. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. When they do, they bring us bread and sometimes vegetables. We don’t have any money, just a few clothes," she said.

The U.N. refugee agency estimates that in the past two months, about 63,000 Syrians have entered the Kurdish region of Iraq, bringing the total number of refugees there to at least 220,000.  Most of them are ethnic Kurds.  

William Tall, the chief UNHCR representative here, is worried that winter conditions in the coming months will be very difficult for the large number of refugees to endure.

"Mud will be a reality. I think we should accept that. It’s gonna be muddy. It’s gonna be dirty. It’s gonna be unpleasant. When you have cold weather with some nutritional issues, maybe with poor sanitation, this can lead to a serious situation," said Tall.

Down the road from Aisha, Ahmed lives with his family in an abandoned house. His family is one of three who have turned the concrete shell into a home.

Thanks to an economic boom in Erbil, he is able to provide for his family by working as an unskilled laborer on a construction site. Before the war, he worked in a restaurant in Aleppo. He fled to Iraq after one of his daughters died.

“My daughter got sick during a bomb attack while I was out buying bread. She went pale, so I rushed her to the hospital, but when we arrived there wasn't anyone to help her, so she died,” said Ahmed.

He said he wants to return home, but not until it is safe for his family.

For Ahmed and Aisha, fleeing to northern Iraq has kept their families safe from weapons of war. As winter approaches, though, they face being left in the cold.

You May Like

At International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid