Life as a Displaced Person in Iraq
Over two million individuals have lived in refugee camps within the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) during the last ten years. There are still over 1.3 million people living in 47 camps and local neighborhoods throughout Kurdistan. These camps were designed to provide temporary shelter. Although, people live safe and securely, infrastructure in the camps cannot adequately support such high volume over an extended period of years. in most cases, the people residing in these camps have suffered tremendous losses and cannot return home.
The Safety of Living in a Camp
Women and children comprise the vast majority of refugees and IDPs residing within camps. In some camps, children make up 80% of the population. Those who have tried to return home report high levels of insecurity and have been met with sectarian and religious violence. They are also met with violence when they attempt to return home. Most who try to return home have been forced back to camps in the KRI. There are more and more people coming into the camps every day–including people who are returning and new arrivals.
While the relative safety and security is appreciated, life in the camps is also very challenging. Power is available for a few hours per day. Sewage and drainage systems are underdeveloped, resulting in hazardous standing water throughout the camps. Tents and shelters that were designed to be used for two months are used for much longer, failing to provide protection from heat and cold. Schools, clinics, psychiatric support facilities, community centers and other support facilities exist, but lack the manpower necessary to provide services.
Testimony from Displaced Persons Residing in Camps
“There is so much death, so much killing there.”
“Why are you afraid to go back?”
“Due to killings, as well as large amounts of explosives that Daesh left behind them.”
Photo Gallery of Life in a Camp
Photos depicting the security and challenges of living in a camp. These images were photographed in March 2018.
Photo credit: D. Puls