As I make my hundredth attempt at getting our Skype connection working, I listen carefully awaiting the sound of his breath. Finally, a crackle on the line and I hear him speak. It’s a clearer connection and finally I can share his story. This is him, speaking from Iraq.
“I’m a survivor of the Syrian war. I have been in Iraq since February 2013, working in IDP camps for UNICEF as Child Development Officer. Again I remember I am one of the lucky few. I’m one of the lucky few, as I write this in mid August 2014, just last month 100 Syrian refugees from a single overcrowded ship were killed — stabbed, drowned, and asphyxiated — while attempting to enter Italy from Libya. Escaping the war is just as dangerous as living in it. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Italy alone has received over 64,000 refugees since January, compared to 20,000 intercepted in 2013. Though many of the refugees are Syrians fleeing the war, there are also considerable numbers of Iraqis, Kurds, Eritreans, Somalis, trying to enter Europe via sea. It’s a race for survival, to escape the Syrian war over two and a half million refugees are fleeing to neighbouring countries Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan. Up to 10,000 a day are leaving. Overall there are nine million fleeing refugees looking for safety. While 6.5 million Syrians remain displaced within Syria, despite it being competitive and dangerous they have to get out, look for safety. Syria has historically offered assistance to Iraqi refugees, and when Iraqis returned home as the Syrian war broke out they returned to further bloodshed. The United Nations said on 18 July that at least 5,576 civilians have been killed and 11,665 others wounded in Iraq since January.
As Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are advancing rapidly in Syria and Iraq, there are millions of more displaced people each day. The statistics are staggering and the human toll unimaginable. Many of us escaping the war and then after surviving the dangerous journey end up in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Refugee Camps.
The number of IDPs is increasing due to the ongoing crisis in Northern and Western Iraq; people who have left everything behind are arriving daily. UN agencies, local and international NGOs are working on various scopes to meet the needs of the families and children here. On arrival food, water, hygiene materials, health care, mobile clinics, ambulances, and psychosocial support are provided. IDPs are large encampments of tents as shelter, showers and latrines cubicles, and there are playgrounds and child friendly spaces for children to play and forget about their experience. These pictures are of Syrian children from the three UNICEF IDP camps in Darshakran, Kawergosk, Qushtapa and it depicts their daily, of the children who have survived. The horrible escalation of violence is compounded by the growing list of casualties and refugees. The situation is devastating.”