34,400 Syrian refugees have arrived in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq since the Syrian conflict erupted in March last year. And they continue to come, states UNHCR , with an average of 500 people reaching Domiz every day.
Amongst them are Magi and her mother. She’s only four years old, but Syrian refugee Magi can’t shake off the sounds and images of war from her mind.
“I can’t sleep at night; I still have images of soldiers shooting from the roofs,” says the young girl in her family’s tent at the Domiz in Dohuk governorate.
War forced her family to flee the embattled northern city of Aleppo and seek shelter in northern Iraq. Her mother continues: “There were power cuts all the time in our building and prices went up significantly. It was impossible to buy bread and oil, shops were always closed and Magi was crying because she was hungry, so we decided to flee the country.”
At the camp, many of the children arrive suffering from post-traumatic symptoms such as nightmares, anxiety attacks and painful memories. UNHCR meet several children in need of professional support, as well as participation in social activities, to help them cope in their new, unfamiliar environment.
In Domiz, UNHCR identifies cases of traumatized children and refers them to the camp’s mental health unit, which is run by the Kurdistan Regional Government’s department of health. Here, experts provide psychological counselling and support to the children and their families, as well as follow up on their mental health situation.
Growing numbers of Syrians arriving with no economic resources and seeking assistance are putting increased pressure on services in all sectors, including food, shelter, water and health care.
The new arrivals, including Magi’s family, are living in transit areas while the infrastructure of the camp is being expanded to cope with the growing influx. It currently provides shelter to some 14,500 refugees.
As of early October, some 34,400 Syrian refugees have been registered in Iraq’s Kurdistan Region. Duhok governorate hosts the largest number with more than 27,000 people, followed by Erbil (5,852) and Suleimaniya (1,683).
The Kurdistan Region of Iraq continues to welcome Syrian Kurdish refugees and facilitate their integration and freedom of movement by issuing residency permits and providing access to public services. However, the situation is critical and the future for these people is most uncertain.