Domiz Refugee Camp (Iraq)
A street in Domiz. (L. Annaud/MSF)
A street in Domiz. (L. Annaud/MSF)
Located 60 kilometres away from the Syrian border, the refugee camp of Domiz 1, established in response to an influx of refugees from northern Syria, has quickly turned into a “Little Syria” within Iraqi Kurdistan. With a population of more than 32,000 currently spread over 1,142,500 m²; Domiz 1 is the biggest refugee camp in Iraq.
The camp was hastily established on site of a former army base in Dohuk governorate when large numbers of Syrians began fleeing to Iraq in 2012. Domiz 1 wasn’t built to hold so many people. When opened in 2012, it was designed for 1,000 families, a fraction of its current population.
Currently there is 12-13 quarters in the camp, and 5,000 households approximately, with average of five children per household. The last influx of refugees was in 2013 and back then there was up to 55,000 people living in this camp.
At the beginning people arrived with nothing and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR ) distributed tents. Water and sanitation systems were woefully insufficient. Since then this situation has improved, residents have started businesses and they are currently allowed to build rudimentary concrete shelters/houses. But for example water shortages still exist, in particular in summer when the temperature rises up to 45°C.
Médecins sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has operated in the camp since its establishment. The MSF maternity unit in the Domiz 1 camp is kept running mostly by a team of female staff members – themselves refugees – who provide quality healthcare services to fellow refugees. At the MSF maternity unit in the Domiz camp around 100 children are born every month.
*MSF completed the project in Domiz Refugee Camp in November 2017 and has handed over the maternity unit to the Dohuk Directorate of Health. We will continue to work across Iraq and currently have projects in the governorates of Erbil, Diyala, Ninawa, Kirkuk, Salaheddin, Anbar and Baghdad.
My name is Mashallah. I am a Kurd from Syria. I’m the mother of four and I’m married. I’m originally from Derek but I grew up in Damascus. My home is Damascus. My husband was an artist. He was a music teacher. He was doing business trades, too. We had a very good life in Syria. We were happy. We had our own house. ..read more
On our way to the Domiz camp we pass through the city, we see people rushing to work, children fooling around in school busses on their way to school. It´s busy in front of the camp, cars going there and back, people crossing the way. Just behind the gate, there is a small market, empty (for the moment), just a few salesmen are unpacking vegetables. We turn to the middle of the camp on a muddy road lined by various shops with wedding dresses, cell phones, candy store, shawarma stores. There is also a “pet shop” with budgerigars. ..read more
I had to leave Qamishli in 2012. There was no work, no services, no electricity. I had to abandon my house, my shop and all my belongings. My son Reyan was only few months old at that time and had to be carried. I walked a few hours with him on my back. ..read more
No one helped us when we arrived here. Like them we lived in tents with no water or electricity and we had to share the toilets with dozens of others. After four years spent at Domiz, my family was granted permission to build a rudimentary concrete shelter. ..read more
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