Save the Children
October 18, 2013
Samira and Mohammed are currently living in a refugee camp in northern Iraq. Mohammed arrived with his mother during the massive refugee influx in the days after the border opened on August 15th. Samira and their son, Ali, joined a month later.
Samira and Mohammed are very concerned about the upcoming winter months as they have no warm clothes and their tent is flimsy and not able to protect them from the elements.
I spoke with them in their small tent in the camp. They had few belongings – just a few mats on the floor and some blankets.
Samira: There are three of us who live in this tent- me, my husband and our son. Our son is only one year old and is still learning to walk. I come from Syria and I arrived here about a month ago. The situation here is so difficult – even though there is a war in Syria, we can’t stay here. If the rain and the cold starts we will have to return. We came with no warm clothes or anything – we still haven’t received anything to help us. I don’t have any warm clothes for my son – I worry he will fall sick.
Mohammed: The tent is not built to be strong – it won’t withstand the cold or the storms. If the rain falls, the water will come inside. There are tears in our tent and the water will drip through.
Samira: Our house in Syria was great – it was very comfortable. There were four rooms – not like this one-room tent. We did struggle last winter in Syria – I was pregnant and the my son was born on January 1st – right in the middle of winter.
Mohammed: There was no oil for heating and so I had to chop up wood from the trees around our house to keep us warm but it wasn’t enough. Our son often got colds. We know what winter can be like, but last time we had a nice house. If we stay here, we don’t know how we will cope. If the rains come, the tent may just collapse. We are already getting cold at night. When I first arrived in August, we had no tent for a week so we slept outside. It was quite cold during the night then – it is now much colder than it was then. We do have a gas heater but only a very little amount of gas left and we can’t afford to buy anymore.
Samira: We left Syria with nothing – just the clothes we wear here. We didn’t bring any winter clothes as we arrived during the summer months and had no time to plan. In the evenings we close up the tent and turn on the gas heater using the little gas we have left.
Mohammed: The tent is really our biggest problem, it won’t keep us warm. We know it’s going to get muddy here and our child won’t be able to play outside anymore. We really haven’t prepared for the winter months as we have no money to buy anything and we arrived with nothing. We think it’s going to be colder here than it was in Syria as well, because this is a mountainous region. We chat to our neighbors about the upcoming winter all the time - we know we will suffer a lot.
Save the Children will be distributing winter items to refugees in camp and non-camp settings in the region in the coming weeks. This will include winter clothes for adults and children, blankets and heaters.