Sara: A woman from my homeland

Sara, refugee in Iraq

Sara’s third child wasn’t even 40 days when her husband, family’s only breadwinner, was killd by criminal militias in Baghdad.

I met her when I was volunteering, assisting displaced families in Baghdad. She had a baby in her lap, whom I thought was her brother. It would never have occurred to me that it was her third child. Her innocence, small size and paleness made me guess that her age was no more than 20. I approached her and asked about her condition. Her name was Sara, she was 18 years old and had three kids. She married when she was 13. She found no other way to survive after her father had died in an explosion in 2003, under the US occupation, and her mother also passed away some time after that. She had moved to her elder sister’s and to get rid of the financial burden that she was, her sister encouraged her to marry her cousin, who was 19.

“Never did I attend school,” Sara told me with frozen feelings and dry eyes. “I’m illiterate. My husband was a manual worker who earned daily wages. He was skillful in his work. I had two children. While I was visiting my relatives in Baghdad, I went into labour with my third child. My husband could not come to that Shiite area because he belonged to a different religious sect. I stayed with my relatives for nearly two weeks. Then, when my husband tried to come to take me back something must have happened, I lost contact with him. I looked for him for days until I found his body in the fridge of the Forensic Medicine Office. My baby wasn’t even 40 days old when I buried my husband.”

Her husband was killed by criminal militias who are still looking for preys in Baghdad to murder and mutilate. That is part of the sectarian violence currently taking place in Iraq.

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Syrian refugee women in Domiz camp struggling for their rights in Iraqi Kurdistan

A very early Sunday morning just before Christmas, I left Erbil by car with Abdulrahman Ali from Warvin foundation for women issues, one of Kvinna till Kvinna’s partner organizations in Iraq. We were heading to Domiz refugee camp to meet with the Syrian refugee women who Warvin have trained and worked with during the year to hear about their situation and activism.

While it had been below zero in Erbil, we did not see the snow until we reached the mountains near Dohuk. Before continuing to Domiz camp, we had breakfast and got warmed up in at a café surrounded by the beautiful snowy mountains.

Later in the morning, we arrived in Domiz camp. It was very cold and muddy. Warvin’s local staff in Dohuk showed us the camp. Domiz camp, which was the first refugee camp set up in April 2012 in Iraqi Kurdistan to host Syrian refugees, is located about 20 km from the city of Dohuk and about 60 km from the Syrian border. Domiz refugee camp is the biggest refugee camp for Syrian refugees in Iraq with a population of around 60,000 people. About 250,000 Syrian refugees are now living in exile in Iraq.

One of the main crossroads in Domiz camp

One of the main crossroads in Domiz camp

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