– June 16 2020
Effects of the pandemic in an Iraqi refugee camp
“I see myself as a good and responsible person. I love my life, I think life is so beautiful but because of the living conditions and circumstances in the camp, I cannot enjoy my life. I am afraid of the coronavirus and I am sad that I don’t go to school to see my friends and to spend time with them.
“I love my school a lot and I wish my school was like other schools that have activities such as painting, music, theater and sports. Because my school is in the camp, it has none of this.
“I wish to become a successful person in life. I want to get a good education and a degree that will make my parents proud of me and that our life will change to the better, and we will be happy forever.”
𝘠𝘢𝘸𝘦𝘳*, 𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘴, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘳𝘦𝘦 𝘴𝘪𝘣𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘴 𝘸𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘤𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘧𝘭𝘦𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘳 𝘩𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘥𝘶𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘯 𝘢𝘵𝘵𝘢𝘤𝘬 𝘢𝘨𝘢𝘪𝘯𝘴𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘠𝘢𝘻𝘪𝘥𝘪 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘮𝘶𝘯𝘪𝘵𝘺 𝘪𝘯 𝘚𝘪𝘯𝘫𝘢𝘳 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘴𝘪𝘯𝘤𝘦 2015 𝘭𝘪𝘷𝘦𝘥 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘤𝘢𝘮𝘱 𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘚𝘖𝘚 𝘊𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘥𝘳𝘦𝘯’𝘴 𝘝𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘢𝘨𝘦𝘴 𝘐𝘳𝘢𝘲 𝘴𝘶𝘱𝘱𝘰𝘳𝘵𝘴 𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘥𝘳𝘦𝘯 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘳 𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘴. *𝘕𝘢𝘮𝘦𝘥 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘵𝘦𝘤𝘵 𝘱𝘳𝘪𝘷𝘢𝘤𝘺.
Interview with Shivan Abdulwahid Ali, project coordinator at SOS Children’s Villages Iraq
What is the impact of COVID-19 on displaced children and their families?
Children do not go to school anymore. They are in their tents the whole day hearing all the time about coronavirus news and this of course affects them. In addition, classes are now online, children are required to take part in classes through a laptop or phone application. However, the conditions and financial situation of people living inside the camp does not allow them to have permanent internet to access digital learning materials and information.
What needs do families have currently?
The first case of COVID-19 was registered in the camp in Dohuk in March 2020 and since then the government decided to close the camps and limit access.
The only people who maintain access to the people living in the camp are medical staff and organisations that distribute hygiene products and medicine. Organisations that raise awareness of the pandemic can continue to provide services to the people under the condition that they do the sessions either by phone or visit each family individually. All other activities were suspended. The pandemic has not further spread in the camp yet.
The situation for parents is difficult. Some of them work inside the camps as teachers or in small shops that are officially authorised by the authorities, and the majority work outside in construction or on farms. Now they cannot work anymore. They depend on support of the Ministry of Immigration and some NGOs that provide food and hygiene products. This creates pressure leading to an additionally negative mental health impact for the parents as they cannot provide for their families, including food and non-food items, or pay for internet to help their children access education online.
Besides attending online classes, children have no other activities to do inside the camps.”
SOS Children’s Villages Iraq provided mainly recreational activities, mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS). Since only medical and food assistance are allowed amidst pandemic prevention measures, these activities had to be put on hold.