Tags / Iraqis
One of the buildings of Idomeni train station, in Greece, where some refugees have set up temporary homes while waiting to continue their travel to other European countries.
Thousands of refugees in Idomeni set their tents on railway tracks on the border with Macedonia where they have been for more than two months.
Yazidis families cook food on an outdoor fire at the Idomeni refugee camp in Greece..
Refugees sell food and other items at the side of the entrance road to the camp in Idomeni, Greece.
Yazidis are a religious group of about half a million people native to the northern Iraqi province of Nineveh. They share the same language and much of the culture of the Kurds of Turkey and Syria. As adherents of pre-Islamic Gnostic teachings they have been subjected to years of strong repression. In the last two years they have been one of the main targets of ethnic cleansing by ISIS militiamen, along with Christians and Shiites. In early August 2014 thousands of Yazidis fled towards the mountains of Sinjar as ISIS launched an offensive in northern Iraq. ISIS forces massacred over 5000 Yazidi men and kidnapped thousands of women who were sold into slavery in Mosul and Raqqa, Syria. Those who survived the attacks were trapped on the mountains of Sinjar without food, water or medical care, facing starvation, dehydration and the risk of further attacks by ISIS for several weeks. Fortunately PKK and YPG Kurdish forces opened a corridor from the mountains to Rojava ( Northern Syria, led by kurdish forces ) allowing them to flee to safety. Thousands of Yazidis took refuge in Rojava or in Kurdish areas in Turkey. Like the many refugees fleeing war zones, thousands of Yazidis try to escape to safer zones in Europe, where their tragedy continues. Stopped at the gates of Europe, they end up in refugee camps like the notorious Idomeni, between Greece and Macedonia. Here in makeshift tents on the Skopje railway line they are surrounded by waste, toxic fumes and mud. There are still over 1200 Yazidis who have been stuck for over a month waiting for the reopening of the border, closed at the beginning of March by Macedonian authorities with the silent approval of Europe; the same Europe that at the time of Yazidi's flight to the Sinjar mountains was crying for them, and which now closes its eyes to them.
Looking out from inside a tent of a refugee on the Yazidi majority side of the Idomeni camp.
A Yazidi woman washes dishes outdoors. Behind her a large tent where more than 10 people live.
A Yazidi man with his grandson in front of the tent where they have been living for more than one months.
An elder Yazidi woman in the refugee camp in Idomeni, Greece.
A Yazidi girl and her younger brother near the tent where they live in Idomeni, Greece.
A Greek police helicopter flies over the refugee camp on a spring afternoon in Idomeni, Greece.
Yazidi refugees try to fix an outdoor lamp in a dark area of the camp in Idomeni, Greece.
Yazidi families gather around the glowing embers of a campfire for warmth on a cold night in Idomeni, Greece.
Salim, a young Yazidi refugee who has been living alone in the Idomeni camp, in Greece, for more than a month.
A night view of a part of the refugee camp near the Idomeni train station in Greece.
A Yazidi man shaves in the early morning between hanging lines of clothing in a refugee camp in Idomeni, Greece.
Refugees in the camp in Idomeni, Greece, hang clothes to dry on the fence built by Macedonia's authorities along all the border with Greece in order to stop the flow of refugees into the country.
Yazidis fill bottles with drinking water on a very hot day at the refugee camp at Idomeni, Greece.
Yazidi refugees gather in a tent for a meal at the Idomeni camp in Greece.
A long line of refugees waiting for the daily delivery of supplies by NGOs that are active in the refugee camp in Idomeni, Greece.
A Yazidi boy has his hair cut by a barber in the refugee camp in Idomeni, Greece. Behind them, an 84 year old woman sits by the tent where she lives alone in the camp.
A Yazidi man sleeps on a cot inside a tent belonging to Doctors Without Borders. The majority of people in the Idomeni camp are Kurds.
A Yazidi man fixes another refugee's necklace inside the large tent where they have been living for more than a month in the camp in Idomeni, Greece.
A Yazidi man shows the picture of his 4 year-old son who was killed by ISIS militamen in 2014 in Şinjar, in northern Iraq.
A rainy night at the Idomeni refugee camp in Greece where hundreds of Yazidi Kurds have been taking shelter for more than a month.
A banner denouncing the EU-Turkey agreement on refugees hangs outside a meeting tent on a rainy night at the Idomeni refugee camp in Greece.
Iraqi special forces soldiers and popular troops from 9th Division, lead by General Neemat Jawdat Al Ankushi, patrol in the area of Samerra, Iraq, on January 22, 2015 just after villages of this area have been liberated from Daech or ISIS militants.
December 22, 2014
Iraqi Christian refugees put up a huge Christmas tree outside of the Chaldean Cultural Centre in Dohuk. The tree is the biggest in the region and is made of astro-turf wrapped around a metal frame, materials supplied by Afram, an engineer and owner of the centre, which is now housing 87 Christian refugee families.
Inside the centre, Salma is putting up Christmas decorations. She and her husband fled Tel Isqof, in northern Iraq, to escape ISIS and now live with other refugees in Dohuk. Their sons both fled the country.
Farouk and George, a former employee at Basra airport and a former employee at the oil plant in Kirkuk, respectively, wish to leave Iraq for a more stable life.
Farouk, Christian refugee, (Man, Arabic):
(00:36-00:58) Farouk: "This is a Christmas tree for the Chaldean Cultural Centre. All the people here participated in the making of it."
Interviewer: How did you make it?
Farouk: "We cover it with a carpet and then we decorate it with Christmas lights and Christmas decorations."
(01:03-01:47) Farouk: "This is the work of Mr. Afram. He allowed us to reside here, we were 87 families."
Interviewer: Is this the only tree that you are making?
Farouk: "No, we have another tree inside and a grotto."
Interviewer: What do you hope for this Christmas?
Farouk: "We hope for peace, and to leave this country, because nobody is giving us our rights."
Interviewer: Why are you making this tree?
Farouk: "It is a holiday, we have to make it."
George, Christian refugee, (Man, Arabic):
(01:59-02:15) George: "Even if our situation is hard, it will become easier, nothing stays the same. Life is a chance, to see the good and to see the bad. and hopefully God will fix things, and make it better for us. We are refugees, and we hope our situation will improve."
(02:21-02:31) George: "We build the christmas tree every year. No matter what happens, we build it every year."
Interviewer: The fact that you are refugees did not affect you negatively?
George: "No, nothing can affect us."
(02:38-02:52) George: "We hope to return to Kirkuk, to work and continue to live our lives. We do not care about ISIS or anyone."
Salma, Christian refugee (Woman, Arabic):
(04:02-04:16) Salma: "I am decorating the tree. The Christmas tree."
Interviewer: Why are you decorating it?
Salma: "Because it is a religious holiday that we celebrate every year and decorate the tree."
(04:24-05:22) Salma: "I remember when we used to be in our village, and celebrate this holiday with the family, friends, and relatives."
Interviewer: What did you used to do at Christmas time back when you were in your village?
Salma: "We used to celebrate, prepare food and sweets for the holiday when all the family gathers."
Interviewer: What is your current situation here?
Salma: "We are living in a tragedy. It is not nice to live here for any of the people in this building. But thanks to Mr. Afram, who allowed us to stay here, we are so much better than others."
(05:27-05:42) Salma: "If they cannot find a solution they should allow mass immigration. I am here alone with my husband. All of my children are out of the country, Why should my husband and I stay here?"
(05:47-06:37) Salma: Are we Christian or citizens of this country? We ask God to fix this situation."
Interviewer: Is it necessary to build the tree?
Salma: "Yes absolutely, the tree should be placed and decorated at the beginning of December, to start preparing for the holiday. This tree is a blessing from God, maybe it will bless us so the situation can be fixed and we can return to our homes. Many people do not want to immigrate. This is our country and it is very important to us, when we think of what happened to our country we feel sad, but what can we do?"