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Just a few weeks after opening its doors for the first time on August 4, the maternity unit in Domeez refugee camp, in northern Iraqi Kurdistan, is crowded with Syrian women, many of them mothers of newborns or mothers-to-be. All have chosen to take advantage of a range of maternity services—from antenatal check-ups to postnatal vaccinations—provided by staff who are themselves refugees.

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Following heavy fighting between Islamic State forces and Kurdish forces in Sinjar in northwestern Iraq, as well as in other areas west of Kurdistan, more than 200,000 people are reported to have fled the area. Many Iraqis fleeing their homes have now moved into Kurdistan, where authorities have opened their borders to them. MSF has been working in Kurdistan for two years and is trying to respond to the needs of people forced to flee their homes, some experiencing displacement for the second or third time.

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In the eleven days after militants from the Islamic State (IS) group stormed the district of Sinjar in Iraq’s Ninewa governorate, a constant stream of thousands of exhausted people has been flowing into Syria. They are heading to the relative safety of the northern border between Syria and Iraq.

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In late 2013, MSF sent teams to MSF projects in Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan on the same day to record the work we are doing with Syrians, to experience the situation through the eyes of staff members trying to provide desperately needed assistance.

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Due to the resurgence of violence in Iraq and the ongoing fighting between armed groups and the Iraqi army, hundreds of thousands of people have fled the cities of Mosul, Fallujah and Tikrit in the past month. Most have fled to Iraqi Kurdistan, Al Tameem governorate, or other cities considered relatively safe. Some civilians, however, remain trapped amidst heavy fighting.

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Early in the morning, a crowd of Syrian refugees, mostly women and children, stand outside the Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) clinic at the Kawargosk camp in northern Iraq, waiting to see a doctor who knows their situation all too well. Dr. Muhammed Selim is himself a refugee, someone who was forced from his home by the war in his country just as they were forced from theirs.

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MSF continues to offer reconstructive surgical care to victims of violence in Iraq's Anbar Province and from all over the country, despite the huge challenges posed by the complex security situation.

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Since April 2012, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has managed a chronic disease treatment program in Lebanon to meet the desperate needs of Syrian patients who no longer have access to treatment.

“Nearly 90 percent of our patients arrive with prior diagnoses of chronic disease—typically hypertension and diabetes,” says Dr. Wael Harb, MSF supervisory doctor in the Bekaa Valley. “The condition worsens quickly if they haven’t received treatment for weeks.”

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Three years of extremely violent war have ripped apart towns, villages, hospitals, clinics—everything that Syrians relied on for their existence.

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As the humanitarian situation inside Syria continues to worsen, mental health needs among refugees who have fled the country are steadily increasing. Ahead of World Mental Health Day on October 10, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) wants to highlight the plight of Syrians in northern Iraq’s Domeez refugee camp, where MSF’s counselors and psychologists are seeing growing numbers of patients presenting with far more acute symptoms than a year ago.

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