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Iraq: a second day of rains and roads are quickly becoming mud

 

Rains are starting to arrive in northern Iraq which is now home to over 200,000 Syrian refugees
Rains are starting to arrive in northern Iraq which is now home to over 200,000 Syrian refugees

When I arrived in Iraq in mid-October, temperatures had dropped considerably from the searing heat of mid-summer when the thermometer often topped 40 degrees. Days were still hot and sunny, though, and everywhere remained extremely dry and dusty. I could only imagine how things would change in the coming weeks and months as the rains started and temperatures began to drop. 

 Rains begin

A second day of rains and the once scorched, dusty tracks around Kawergosk refugee camp are quickly becoming mud – not ideal, as those are the entrance routes for water and supplies and the pathways for the 13,000 Syrians living here.

 

The camp sits at the base of surrounding hills so it is going to be prone to flooding; already, some families’ tents have filled with muddy water. The few belongings these families had managed to piece together in the three months since they arrived from Syria now lie sodden and ruined.

 

The vast majority of refugees living here arrived in the height of summer. Many left Syria only after using up all their supplies and savings. Others fled their homes after outbreaks of violence; they had no time to gather their belongings and arrived with just the light clothing they were wearing when they left.

 

Those families who were unlucky enough to have tents pitched on the lowest ground are now being forced to move yet again: traipsing across the muddy camp to find a higher pitch for the tent which is now home.

 

A race against time

For Save the Children and all the organisations working to support more than 200,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq, it is a race against time. We are urgently distributing warm winter clothes, waterproof boots and blankets to children and providing their parents with mats, rope and thick rugs to further insulate their tents and shelters.

 

But the funding we currently have is not enough to help everyone. It’s extremely worrying: at the moment, children walk around the camps in light clothing and sandals but already it’s getting much colder in the evenings and you can see just how likely children will be to get sick if they’re not kept warm. Stagnant flood water in the camps will also pose a serious health hazard.

 

CFSs in Kawergosk camp

In Kawergosk camp, we are moving our Child and Youth Friendly Spaces from tents to better insulated, more permanent containers. Every day in the camp, over 500 children and young people come to these centres and we are in the process of setting up new ones to reach even more children.

 

The centres give children and young people living in the camps a much-needed safe place to play, learn, interact with other children and talk through their experiences. We need to make sure these centres are warm and dry so that children can continue to attend throughout the winter. Cold and rain shouldn’t be allowed to make these children’s lives harder: they have already suffered more than enough.

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