International Rescue Committee (IRC)

A day with a Syrian refugee family [Photos]

Domiz, a sprawling refugee camp in Iraq’s northern Kurdish region is home to over 50,000 Syrians, primarily ethnic Kurds. They are among the more than 2 million Syrians who have fled their homeland for neighboring countries since the Syrian civil war began in 2011. Aid workers describe Syria as "the humanitarian crisis of this generation."

At the Domiz camp, the International Rescue Committee runs a women's center and is opening the first secondary school at the camp for more than 400 students.
 
Last month I visited the camp, where I spent a day with a refugee family. The following photos provide a glimpse of daily life in the camp and the conditions refugees are living in.
 
 
Sunrise over Domiz camp.
5:15am 
The sun rises slowly over Domiz camp. Mohammed, 33, Layla, 37 (they did not wish to provide their full names) and their two young children, Dilbirin and Shireen are preparing for another day as refugees. They fled fighting in Damascus, the Syrian capital, in April. Since then they have lived in a small flimsy tent.
 
 
Crowd of workers in a misty setting are facing backwards to the camera on their way to work. One, at the forefront, looks back.
6:32am
The children are still asleep when Mohammed—along with hundreds of other refugees—leaves the camp in search of work. He is off to a nearby town where he has been promised a temporary job. “Our savings are gone,” he says. “I need extra money to support my family.”
 
 
Refugee mixing cement.
7:45am
Mohammed is given a job mixing cement. He is paid $20 dollars for a day’s work. He spends $6.50 of his earnings on a taxi to and from the camp. “It’s expensive here,” he says. “You need a lot to get by.”
 
 
Two Syrian babies looking straight at the camera.
9:05am
Back in Domiz, the children are awake. Because of the stifling heat, they spend most of their time inside the tent near a fan. “It is boring for them,” Layla says. “They have no toys.”
 
 
Syrian refugee woman cooks a chicken for her famiy inside her tent.
2pm
Layla has used some of her precious savings to buy a chicken. She cooks it on a butane burner, with rice and onions.
 
 
Syrian refugees in a market.
4:05pm
Mohammed returns home and walks to a nearby shack that doubles as a store where he buys bread for their meal. Domiz is filled with small businesses run by refugees selling everything from candy to bridal dresses.
 
 
Captured from above, the photo shows a family gathered to share a meal.
4:20pm
Mohammed’s mother and brother, who live a few tents over, arrive to share the meal.
 
 
Young refugee girl resting inside her tent.
4:45pm
Shireen is given her afternoon milk bottle and soon falls asleep.
 
 
Father strokes his son's head as his two children play outside in the refugee camp.
5:35pm
As the sun starts to set, the air gets cooler and the children are allowed to play outside.
 
 
Father walking his two kids, holding their hands, back home.
6:15pm
Mohammed takes the children back to the tent.
 
 
Child watches a cartoon from his father's mobile phone.
6:30pm
Dilbirin, who hasn’t napped, is a bit restless. Mohammed lets him watch a cartoon on his mobile phone.
 
 
Father entertaining his children inside tent.
8:07pm
Before putting the children to sleep, Layla prepares a small dinner: olives, cheese spread, bread and tahini. Mohammed entertains the children with a balloon.
 
 
Father kisses his child inside tent.
8:45pm
Mohammed kisses Dilbirin goodnight. He doesn’t want to sleep.
 
 
Family resting inside tent.
9:10pm
Dilbirin has fallen asleep. Shireen is drinking another bottle of milk while Layla rocks her on a pillow.
 
 
In a dark night, almost no lights, the tent is shown from the outside.
11pm
Mohammed and Layla close up the tent and go to sleep.
 
 
Night view from above of Domiz refugee camp.
11:30pm
Domiz has fallen silent, its streets mostly deserted. Another day in the camp has ended. 
 
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