A Syrian mother in Northern Iraq: “We Barely Escaped Syria with Our Lives”

 Iraq, Syria
 Emergency Response
 31st Oct 2019

Photo: Diana, 33, is a mother of three: Zara, 14, Amed, 10, and Soran, 6 years old. She had to flee her village near Ras al-Ain, on the Syrian-Turkish border, with her children, leaving her husband behind, after the military operation began in north-east Syria in early October. She now lives in a tent in Bardarash Camp in northern Iraq and worries for her children, as the cold, wet winter approaches. ©Fatima Azzeh/CARE

Diana* left her village near Ras al-Ain, on the Syrian-Turkish border, with her three children after the military operation began in north-east Syria in early October. Her husband stayed behind to look after their house and belongings. While fleeing with her children who are between the ages of six and 14, Diana had to pay smugglers to bring them to safety in northern Iraq.

“It was dangerous. The car we were traveling in was speeding and tipped over, but thank God, nobody got hurt. We had to hide in a valley for a night, until they sent us another car,” says Diana. Since then, she has been settled with her family in Bardarash camp in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI).

“We’ve been here for a week. We left everything. We only came with the clothes we are wearing. I escaped to save my children,” says Diana. Her 14-year-old daughter, Zara*, continues as tears run down her face, “we left our money, our cars and our house. Our house was beautiful.”

“My dad and uncle stayed in the house. We keep calling them and they don’t answer. We know nothing about them,” Zara adds, looking increasingly distraught.

Zara is in the eighth grade. She had just begun the new school year when the violence escalated in north-east Syria and she had to flee with her family. “They are working on building a new school in the camp. When it opens, I want to go back to school. I was always at the top of my class in Syria,” she says.

Photo: Diana, 33, prepares tea in one of the kitchen units close to her tent. She had to flee her village near Ras al-Ain, on the Syrian-Turkish border, with her three children, leaving her husband behind, after the military operation began in north-east Syria in early October. She now lives in a tent in Bardarash Camp in northern Iraq and worries for her children, as the cold, wet winter approaches. ©Fatima Azzeh/CARE

With heavy downpours common in the winter in northern Iraq, Diana and her family are worried. Their tent sits on a slope in the camp and they are afraid it will fill with water or be swept away.

“How can I keep my children dry, warm and safe in this tent?” says Diana. The family have asked for their tent to be moved to a higher area to be protected from the cold, wet winter, but they have not heard back. “We also want to be with our family. We are here by ourselves and my aunt’s tent is up on that hill. Our family is the only thing we have left,” adds Zara sobbing.

Diana had to undergo a hysterectomy at the young age of 31. She still complains of pelvic pain and has not been able to carry anything heavy since her six-year-old son, Soran*, was born. “My husband is in Syria, my children are young and I cannot carry them, carry water or heavy shopping for them,” says Diana.

She explains that the only reason her family had to separate was for the sake of the children. “Fear made us leave. My children were terrified. I left because of them. Soran is still afraid of airplanes, even while we are here. He cannot sleep at night because he has nightmares about bombings and airstrikes, while Zara spends the nights crying. She cries every night. We barely escaped Syria with our lives,” she adds.

 

*All names have been changed to protect identities.

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