In exile: Iraqi women seek refuge

Collection with 30 media items created by Arianna Pagani

Turkey 24 Sep 2014 15:28

During the days of terror on Mount Sinjar, about 200 women were kidnapped by the militias of the Islamic State to be converted to Islam and sold in the occupied cities of Mosul and Tal Afar. This barbarism is not new to the chronicles of war.

The Islamic State's attack on Mount Sinjar led to the exodus of about 500,000 people, mostly from the Christian, Yazidi and Shabak minorities. These refugees, currently under the protection of the Kurdish militias, are living in the streets, under bridges or in abandoned places in Erbil and surrounding villages. Many of those who manage to escape the conflict have suffered losses in their family that effect them not only economically, but mentally and emotionally. Depression and anxiety in addition to insecurity are a constant challenge.

The UNHCR anticipated there to be over 900,000 internally displaced people in Iraq by the end of 2014. With the rise of ISIS, that number has been more than tripled, with 2.9 million displaced according to International Displacement Monitoring Center. The situation of internally displaced women, not only in Iraq but in conflict zones around the world, is especially precarious as the breakdown in social structures is a risk factor for gender-based violence. In their planning document for 2014, the UNHCR says it is ramping up its efforts to protect refugee and internally displaced women. However, agencies like the UNHCR as well as local associations can only care for and provide aid to so many displaced people, leaving others to fend for themselves.

The condition of the women and children displaced in Iraq is tragic: not only from a material point of view, but also from a psychological and ethical perspective. While talking with them, the elderly were crying because they don't see a future for their land, culture or traditions and were continuously asking, "What did we do wrong to deserve to be killed?" The women were mostly passive, trapped between emotions, tears, the inability to react, “deafened by pain and suffering.” They seemed to understand that as time passes by, the hope of returning to a normal and fair life fades away.

Iraq Women War Isis Refugees Isil Iraq Isil Sinjar Mount Sinjar Iraqi Christ... Kurds Mosul Tal Afar Depression Anxiety Yazidi Yazidis Shabak Minorities I... Minorities Ethnic & Rel... Ethnic Minority Minority Rights Religious Mi... Refugee Displaced Re... Iraqi Migrants Iraqi Kurdistan Kurdistan Re... Kurdistan Kurdish Iraq Militias Islamic Jihad Islamist Ext... Middle East Civil War Levant Islamic Stat... Islamic Stat... Islamic Stat... Islamic State Islamic Stat... The Islamic ... Islamic Stat... Is Exodus Forced Exodus Kurdish Militia Peshmerga Trauma Politics Human Interest Mena

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Rovia, Iraq
By Arianna Pagani
20 Aug 2014

The living conditions of minorities persecuted by the advance of Islamic State militants can be read on the faces of refugees no matter their age. Despite this extreme hardship, the hope that their children will be able to build a better future keeps them going.

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Duhok, Iraq
By Arianna Pagani
19 Aug 2014

Yazidi refugees take shelter in a garage building. A woman, aided by her sons, tends to their makeshift house inside the garage.

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Rovia, Iraq
By Arianna Pagani
20 Aug 2014

Forced migration is in some cases synonymous with survival. These women were found after escaping from an armed group. Young and old, none of them are safe, they say.

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Rovia, Iraq
By Arianna Pagani
19 Aug 2014

In the tiny village of Rovia a few miles from Mosul, a city currently under control of the Islamic State, the Shabak community has found refuge in a mosque under construction. Inside the community, the proportion of children to adults is very high. The adults hope to spare their children from the psychological trauma of war.

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Duhok, Iraq
By Arianna Pagani
20 Aug 2014

The days become monotonous, as the women constantly prepare meals, clean dishes and wash clothes. The rest of the time the mind is free to worry about what might still happen and get lost in the melancholy of a sectarian war in progress.

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Rovia, Iraq
By Arianna Pagani
19 Aug 2014

Shabak women are preparing for the evening meal in a mosque along the road that leads to Mosul. With only moonlight available, people who sleep outside must cook, eat, and wash quickly.

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Duhok, Iraq
By Arianna Pagani
19 Aug 2014

A Yazidi woman prepares water inside a tub to wash the younger children. Harsh conditions make caring for children difficult.

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Duhok, Iraq
By Arianna Pagani
20 Aug 2014

After two hundred Yazidi women were kidnapped and converted to Islam to be sold by IS militants, the Yazidi community worries that it can happen again, visible scars on the community of the women who were persecuted.

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Duhok, Iraq
By Arianna Pagani
20 Aug 2014

Along the roads of the city, in buildings still under construction, you can see hundreds of groups of Yazidis looking for shelter, creating shelters inside the skeletons of buildings, awaiting humanitarian aid. This situation is especially difficult for children and the elderly.

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Duhok, Iraq
By Arianna Pagani
20 Aug 2014

Many Yazidi mothers have lost their children on the way to escape from Mount Sinjar during the advance of the Islamic State militia in the plain of Nineveh, but life must go on in spite of the constant pain and the uncertainty of their future.

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Duhok, Iraq
By Arianna Pagani
20 Aug 2014

Duhok is estimated to host between 200 and 300 thousand refugees. Aid by the international community is slow to arrive, so local volunteers do their best to care for refugees. Women gather in front of an ambulance to have their children examined by doctors and receive treatment.

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Duhok, Iraq
By Arianna Pagani
20 Aug 2014

Yazidi refugees from the €‹Sinjar area live under bridges along one of the main arteries in Duhok. Sulayman, 42, had a hard escape. He is the only one who speaks English and has managed to keep open relations with humanitarian organizations monitoring the situation where women have no privacy and the water is retrieved from a nearby mosque.

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Duhok, Iraq
By Arianna Pagani
19 Aug 2014

Refugee women and girls cooperate to best manage day to day life, sharing duties and caring for the younger children.

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Bardarash, Iraq
By Arianna Pagani
19 Aug 2014

In this makeshift refuge, the little ones spend most of their hours stretched out on the floor in the corridors or in empty classrooms of the school.

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Lalish, Iraq
By Arianna Pagani
19 Aug 2014

The temple Lalish is situated to the north of Mosul. It is a place of pilgrimage and an important sanctuary for Yazidis. After IS captured Bashiqua and other nearby villages, many people have sought refuge at the temple monitored by Peshmerga fighters who control the entire district of Sherkan. The Yazidi community has opened its doors to refugees allowing them to settle down within the sacred place, aided by NGOs providing tents and relief supplies.

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Diyarbakir, Turkey
By Arianna Pagani
20 Aug 2014

One part of the Yazidi community has been able to pass through the border in northern Iraq with Turkey. The city of Diyarbakir, a Kurdish-majority city, has opened two schools to assist refugees with first aid provided by local associations. The number of refugees within this structure is about 700 people.

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Duhok, Iraq
By Arianna Pagani
20 Aug 2014

Yazidi refugees tend to move in groups according to their city of origin. Some hotels offer rooms at a fixed cost. In this Hotel refugees pay 600 Iraqi dinars per month no matter now many people reside in the room. Those with the means may even request air conditioning and fresh water.

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Bardarash, Iraq
By Arianna Pagani
20 Aug 2014

For the Iraqi woman who finds herself with dependent children and without a male figure at her side, security becomes a constant worry in addition to the emotional and psychological destruction visited on them by the Islamic State. Keeping in touch with friends and relatives helps distract them and maintain a sense of community.

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Lalish, Iraq
By Arianna Pagani
20 Aug 2014

A temple sacred to the Yazidi is used as a shelter by refugees arriving from Mount Sinjar. The checkpoints and militarization of the place does not calm their fears that future attacks by the Islamic State can take place. Every inch of the stone temple donning Yazidi symbols of worship is used to shelter a trembling people.

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Rovia, Iraq
By Arianna Pagani
19 Aug 2014

Aid from local associations has not been enough to support the Shabak community living in Rovia's mosque. A woman needs to move for the night between the cars parked outside.

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Duhok, Iraq
By Arianna Pagani
19 Aug 2014

A mother of three cares for a daughter who suffers from Down syndrome. She has many fears and many anxieties about the future, abandoning her old life, and how best to care for her daughter.

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Rovia, Iraq
By Arianna Pagani
19 Aug 2014

An elderly woman prepares to cook dinner, shielding the fire with wooden panels. Inside the mosque there is no pavement, making hygiene a challenge.

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Rovia, Iraq
By Arianna Pagani
19 Aug 2014

Recognized as an ethnic minority in 1952, the Shabak are now on the run from the militias of the Islamic State. They have already experienced persecution in the past, notably by the regime of Saddam Hussein. 70 families of them take refuge in this mosque from their latest threat.

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Duhok, Iraq
By Arianna Pagani
20 Aug 2014

During mealtime, volunteers bring sandwiches and water to refugees. Children play, running between the reinforced concrete pillars of the bridge, left to themselves. The refugees here are waiting for the Duhok municipality to place them in a refugee camp.

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Duhok, Iraq
By Arianna Pagani
20 Aug 2014

Arsalam, 38, is the father of 5 children, including two newborn twins. His family comes from Bashiqua and hosts 24 people in 2 rooms of their hotel. Insecurity is always present on the faces of the guests who do not feel at home, even though they are certainly better off than those refugees who are forced to stay on the streets.

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Duhok, Iraq
By Arianna Pagani
19 Aug 2014

A Yazidi woman walked for days to escape from Mount Sinjar and the threat of the militia of the Islamic State. When she arrived in Duhok, she gave birth to a son with the help of older women in the community. The child is at risk due to high temperatures, the shortage of medicines and an unhygienic place to live.

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Rovia, Iraq
By Arianna Pagani
19 Aug 2014

A Shabak man is sick, lying on a rug while a woman tends to him, as the public hospital can only be reached in the morning. During the day, temperatures reach around 45 degrees.

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Bardarash, Iraq
By Arianna Pagani
19 Aug 2014

Bardarash, 30 km from Mosul, has a Muslim majority. Here, the municipality helped Shabak families take shelter in schools. Young Shabak girls prepare food in one of the classrooms, temporarily used as a kitchen.

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Diyarbakir, Turkey
By Arianna Pagani
19 Aug 2014

Inside one of the schools occupied by refugees, volunteers from a local association manage to bring aid to women and children. They ask women of the community every day for a list of products they need. Women collect lunches brought by the municipality and men distribute them to the entire community.

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Duhok, Iraq
By Arianna Pagani
19 Aug 2014

After attacks by the Islamic State on Mount Sinjar which is located between the north east of Iraq and Syria, minorities have tried to reach places of safety both in northern Iraq and in Turkey. About 120 thousand people managed to escape with the help of Syrian Kurds (YPG) and the air support of the United States.