Syrian Kurdish refugees fear harsh winter
in Iraqi Kurdistan
By Sebastian Meyer - VOA
October 8, 2013
Kurdistan region 'Iraq',— Hundreds of thousands
of Syrians, mostly Kurds, have fled into Kurdistan
region in 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
Because the families don’t live in a refugee camp,
they survive by eating food handed out by their
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
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,www.ekurd.net
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
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