Memories of Al Khazir Refugee Camp
4 December 2016. Today our visit to this “newly arrived refugees” camp, with its more than 6000 families is celebrating the opening of their “hospital” – really a clinic, but OK, let’s call it a hospital. The funding for this very lovely clinic/hospital was provided by generous donations from Qatar and executives and officials from Qatar are here to celebrate the opening and “cut the ribbon” to this very much needed health clinic. I am awed by the line of new black SUV’s that pull up in the midst of all this chaos and only 100 yards from the petrol truck delivering water.
My organization, Bring Hope Humanitarian Foundation, was lucky enough to be given a tour of this facility prior to the arrival of all the officials. It is really well done, very nice, clean, a much needed health clinic for so many people who suffer from a plethora of maladies. We all stayed in the background until the official opening ceremony was completed, then all the black SUV’s took their leave just as quickly as they appeared, they disappeared, leaving the refugees to marvel at the whole celebration while many were starving, and in need of everything you can imagine.
Bring Hope Humanitarian Foundation came prepared with $20,000.00 US in medical drugs, $12,000 in clothes and supplies, $2000.00 worth of medical beds. All the medical equipment, drugs and supplies were given to augment the capabilities of this new clinic. The other supplies and clothes to be distributed to those most in need. We will return again with more as soon as possible.
I met Abbas Azad, a dentist who will become active here in the next few weeks. He is one dentist from Hawler Medical University/College of Dentistry. They have a mobile dental clinic, are all volunteers and also provide toothbrushes and paste. This is much needed and I am happy to meet him and hear of all the great volunteer work being performed through the University students.
This Camp is also administratively responsible for Hassan Sham Camp with its additional 2000 families. What a daunting job, everyone is working as hard as they can with the limited resources. Then there is that fighting currently occurring in Mosul where most of these refugees are from, imagine how much more influx is imminently upon them.
Walking through the camp, I am told there is such a lack of clean water. They have 5000 litre tanks which are only filled 1/4 and it is serving 20 families for 3 days. I am told fights break out over water because sometimes one person whose tank is empty sneaks to steal water from another tank. “They should ration to just 30 litres per day” says Ali, “but it is not fit for drinking, and when you do drink it, a terrible pain happens in your stomach.” He looks at me and says, “How are you, thank you.”
Bashiqa has been here 3 years. They lived in Mosul under the control of ISIS. She left to protect her sons. She doesn’t know how old she is. She explained Iraqi military buses brought them from Mosul to the camp. She has 7 children. They have no milk and no diapers.
Then there was the family that brought tears to my eyes. These were not tears of sorrow, but of joy and hope and happiness, because as the woman rounded the corner and saw me, she held a steaming plate of rice with vegetables and meat, certainly something they waited ages to have. She stopped and motioned to me, she asked me to join them for dinner, as tears rolled down my face, I thanked them and declined as we headed out to plan another day of humanitarian aid to help more of those in need.