In Iraq, water brings relief


In Iraq, water brings relief

By Chris Niles

For a grandmother and her family displaced in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, new water and sanitation facilities have helped improve everyday life.

ERBIL, Iraq/ HONG KONG, June 2015 – “It’s a very difficult situation,” says Hadija, sitting outside her tent with her three grandchildren.


© UNICEF Iraq/2015/Anmar
Hadija sits with her three grandchildren, Bakr, 3 (left), Cidra, 8 (centre), and Malak, 6 (right), in front of Hadija’s tent in Baherka displacement camp, in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.
Hadija has come to Baherka displacement camp from Nabi Younis in Mosul. For eight months, she’s been living in the camp with her five children and her grandchildren.

“It’s very dusty and very hot here,” she says. “The dust gets into the tent and everywhere.”

The grandchildren – Bakr, 3, Malak, 6, and Cidra, 8 – gather around her, squabbling with each other and competing for her attention. These children are separated from their parents, who remain trapped in Mosul.

“First, we were in a transit camp, and then we were in the old part of Baherka,” Hadija says. “More recently we moved to the new camp.”

Baherka is a former concrete factory on the outskirts of Erbil. In 2013, it was transformed into a transit camp for refugees fleeing conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic. In 2014, it became a first stop for those forced from their homes by violence within Iraq.

Here, UNICEF and its partners are building permanent water and sanitation facilities for the nearly 3,000 camp residents.

Every family has a kitchen. Every family has a shower. Every family has a latrine. While water must be fetched from a nearby tap stand, each person has access to 150 litres of safe drinking water each day.

Hadija is grateful that her family is safe and that conditions are slowly improving.

“The facilities are better here, and, because we have two families, we have two tents, two showers and two latrines for nine people,” she says.