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

FIFA Indictments Put Gold Cup Tournament Under Cloud

Experts say US indictments could lead to charges of other world soccer officials, and lead to major shakeup in sport's governance More

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

At a recent even in Seoul, border communities promoted benefits of increased cooperation and North Korean defectors shared stories of life since the war More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win 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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs