Despite the baking summer sun, IDP kids play on sand, sunk in dust

Duhok August 2021- Most of the IDP kids in the settlement of Shraia are playing barefoot in the sand surrounding their tents. Ammar Aziz

By Ammar Aziz in Duhok

Yasemin and her mates run around the tent and the sand is up to their waste. The boys play with a torn plastic ball while the girls play cooking and housing.

Yasemin wears better clothes than the others: a red t-shirt, a short and jeans skirt with a pony tail hair style. She was wearing slippers while most of the others were barefoot riding bikes or playing with glass balls.

I am deeply touched to see them playing in the sand yet can’t do anything about it

The main playground for the kids is the sand where the tensts are built in a settlement outside a camp for Internally Displaced Person IDP. Though the temperature passes 50 Celsius degrees in August, they still come out in the evening to play few hours.

“We have no option except here around the tents. Its too hot and sometimes we get sick,” said Yasemin Alyas, 8.

She has left Shingal with her family when she was only one-year-old in 2014 when the extremist militants of so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria ISIS stormed the Ezidi region and took large swathes of Iraq.

Their settlement, home to over 100 families, is adjacent to Sharia IDP camp which was unable to host all the IDPs so tens of families purchased tents and stayed there.

mndali awara. sharya. (7)
Duhok August 2021- Yasemin Alyas, unlike her block mates, wears a red t-shirt and a jeans skirt (fourth from the right). Ammar Aziz


She joins her friends from 5 pm till sunset to play and spend some time out of the tent. She put her old doll wrapped in some town cloth into a black plastic box of fruits. Se sits in the mid of the sand.

Yasemin said she admires the playgrounds and amusement parks she watches on TV but unfortunately none of it is so close that her father can take her there at the eve of every day.

 She, alike all other IDP kids, would like to have an amusement park or a clean playground to spend some fun time.

Tens of thousands of Ezidis are still living in 26 of camps for IDPs in Kurdistan region despite liberation of their territories from ISIS in 2017 due to the vast destruction to their hometowns and public utilities.

In August 2014, the extremist militants of IS stormed the district of Shingal, home to tens of thousands of Ezidis, adherents of an ancient religion accused of being devil worshippers, and have committed atrocities mounted to genocide.

Thousands of Ezidi women, girls and kids were enslaved and taken as sex slaves. Up today, over 2900 Ezidi women, girls and kids are still missing, lately published figures by KRG office for rescue of the abducted Ezidis shows. 30% of the 664,000 IDPs in Kurdistan region are from the Ezidi community.

Tens of the KIDs got sick of different diseases

“There is no place for the kids to play so they are sunk in dust and sand. I am so touched by this yet can’t do anything about it,” said Alyas Shamo, father of Yasemin.

The dust and the hot weather are unbearable causing posing a threat to the health of the children.

“Tens of the kids got different diseases. Once they are taken to the hospital, the doctors recommend to keep them at home so that they avoid playing in the dust but we can’t tie them under the tents,” Shamo desperately said.

mndali awara. sharya. (13)

Duhok, August 2021- water outlet is walking around the tents of Sharia settlement. Ammar Aziz

The families have called on the local authorities to dedicate a proper place for the kids to play safely but no action on the ground yet.

In winter, the mater gets worse as the sand turns into mud due to rain and the cold weather.

Karwan Zaki, in charge of Joint Coordination Center of crisis JCC under the ministry of interior for Kurdistan Regional Government KRG, said they focus on the IDP camps and sometimes it covers the IDPs out of the camps as well.

Zaki said they have built playgrounds for the children and seats for the parents but KirkuNow follow up found out this service covered some IDP camps not all.

“They can visit us and tell us their complaints o that we fit them into camps where all services are provided,” he added.

The figures by JCC shows that 81,000 IDP families live out of the camps and 34,000 families inside 26 IDP camps, mainly in Duhok northern province.

Ezidis are an ancient and secretive ethno-religious minority whose faith has long left them as targets for persecution. 

Shingal, located 120 west of Mosul, on the border of Iraq-Syria, is home to the Ezidi minority targeted by IS and one of the disputed territories between Baghdad and Erbil. 

The war against Daesh gave a blast to infrastructure of Ninewa in general and Shingal region of the Ezidis in particular.

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