First visit to Erbil – Melusina Sampont
Visiting Erbil for the first time, I am struck by the ability of this society to live peacefully with each other regardless of culture, race and religion. I am here on a humanitarian mission and today I will visit Harsham Camp for refugees.
The people living here came from the small towns and villages surrounding Mosul. According to Sherzad the Deputy Camp Manager there are two clinics here, one run by the IMC two days each week and another run by the Emirates Red Crescent program four days each week. There is a mosque and primary and secondary school, one playground with very little equipment.
NRC placed a community center here. I did not go into the clinics or the community center as my focus was to see and speak directly with the people living here. Taiwan provided the caravans, a term used for the place people live. There are 300 such caravans housing a total of 1523 people, all are Muslim.
I spoke to Afrah Ilyas who has lived here four years. She came by car from Mosul with her brother, sister and four children. Both her brother and sister were employed by the government until they were forced to escape ISIS brutality. Still, standing amid this cold and desolate camp, she tells me all she wants is to return to her home, her city, her old life.
As I continue to write of my experiences here in Iraqi Kurdistan, visiting many of the refugee camps, a common theme recurs, everyone wants to return home, there is no talk of relocating to Europe or wanting another country to take them in, the talk is simple, they want to go home.
Let the world know, it is better to help them survive in a decent and respectful manner here among their familiar surroundings, than to worry too much that these unfortunate victims of war want to relocate and use resources meant for their own citizens.