Refugees from North-Eastern Syria in Iraq

Photo story: Caring for Kurdish refugees in Iraq

Nine-year-old Nwhat Abdul Hamid, a Kurdish refugee from the Syrian border town of Derbasiyah, on a bus to Bardarash camp.
Iraq 2019 © Moises Saman/Magnum Photos
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More than 17,000 people have crossed into Iraq from northeastern Syria following the US troop withdrawal in October and subsequent Turkish military operations in the region. 

By November 6, more than 13,000 Kurdish refugees had settled into tents on concrete slabs in Bardarash camp, originally built in 2013 to accommodate Iraqis fleeing fighting in Mosul.

Refugees from North-Eastern Syria in Iraq
Iraqi-Kurdish authorities register a Syrian-Kurdish family at the Sahela border reception site.
Iraq 2019 © Moises Saman/Magnum Photos

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) started providing medical and mental health care at the Sahela border reception site and in the Bardarash refugee camp on October 24. Since then, MSF has conducted 3,207 health care consultations, including 1,031 for children under five years old. The number of daily consultations has now stabilized between 120 and 180.

Refugees from North-Eastern Syria in Iraq
A young Kurdish refugee receives medical care at an MSF clinic.
Iraq 2019 © Moises Saman/Magnum Photos

Most patients are suffering from upper respiratory tract infections caused by the cold nights spent in tents.

Refugees from North-Eastern Syria in Iraq
Refugees gather to receive heating gas.
Iraq 2019 © Moises Saman/Magnum Photos

In addition to medical care, MSF has provided mental health care to more than 800 families at the Sahela border reception site and in Bardarash camp by going tent-to-tent. 

“Roughly 50 percent of the people we saw during our mental health assessment in the camp were presenting symptoms linked to depression and anxiety,” said MSF mental health manager Bruno Pradal.

Others exhibited medically unexplained physical symptoms like headaches and muscle pain, which could be related to mental health problems.

Iraq:

Iraq: Mental health support for Kurdish refugees fleeing Syria

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Refugees from North-Eastern Syria in Iraq
Jamilla Muslim Qawas, a 58-year-old Syrian-Kurdish refugee from Kobane, came to the MSF clinic with back and leg pain.
Iraq 2019 © Moises Saman/Magnum Photos

MSF mental health workers in the camp met people with suicidal thoughts as well as people with the early symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition to psychological first aid and referrals, our teams also provide people with tips on caring for themselves and others and coping with stress.

“People were worried about the future and were feeling hopeless, thinking about the things they were forced to leave behind like their homes, jobs, family members, and loved ones,” Pradal said.

View more photos from Bardarash camp 

Photos by Moises Saman from Bardarash camp

Refugees from North-Eastern Syria in Iraq
Iraq 2019 © Moises Saman/Magnum Photos
People gather to receive winter clothes inside Bardarash camp.
Refugees from North-Eastern Syria in Iraq
Iraq 2019 © Moises Saman/Magnum Photos
A crowd gathers in Bardarash camp.
Refugees from North-Eastern Syria in Iraq
Iraq 2019 © Moises Saman/Magnum Photos
29-year-old Hamza Mohammad Hamo stands with his three-year-old daughter Gulista in Bardarash camp.
Refugees from North-Eastern Syria in Iraq
Iraq 2019 © Moises Saman/Magnum Photos
Newly arrived Syrian-Kurdish refugees aboard a bus headed to Bardarash camp.
Refugees from North-Eastern Syria in Iraq
Iraq 2019 © Moises Saman/Magnum Photos
A bus departs from the Sahela border reception site to Bardarash camp.
Refugees from North-Eastern Syria in Iraq
Iraq 2019 © Moises Saman/Magnum Photos
Bardarash camp rests on a large, sunny plain in Dohuk Province, Iraqi-Kurdistan.