New Surge of Syrian Refugees Flee to Iraq’s Kurdistan

BAGHDAD (Xinhua) – 29.8.2012 – More than 120 Syrian families fled across the border to a refugee camp in Iraq’s northern semi- autonomous region of Kurdistan during the last two days, driving the total number of Syrian refugees in the country to over 14,000, an official of local refugee authority said Tuesday.

“We received in the Faida refugee camp more than 120 Syrian families during the last two days, and we expect more refugees in the coming days,” Mohammed Abdullah Hammo, chief of Kurdistan Interior Ministry’s Immigration Directorate, told Xinhua.

Faida camp, located 70 km east of the Iraqi-Syrian border, is a major camp built by the regional government and UN organizations to accommodate Syrian refugees. Most refugees in the camp are Syrian Kurds who share the same ethnicity with Iraqi Kurds.

Media have reported a sharp increase in refugee flows from Syria in recent days due to escalated violence there. Iraq, among Syria’s neighbors, has received the fewest refugees, with 4,300 in western Iraq and 14,000 in Kurdistan. The central government in Baghdad has set up two refugee camps in its western provinces of Anbar and Nineveh, which share a 600 km-long border line with Syria. The main crossing in Anbar’s border town of Al-Qaim was closed on Aug. 22. The authorities said it will be reopened after preparations were made to accommodate more refugees. In the crowded Faida camp, Abu Yarb, a 29-year-old Syrian Kurd, told Xinhua, “Bombing and shelling forced me to leave my hometown. We reached here by foot in a very dangerous trip.”

Yarb used to own a house in Damascus’ suburb, “but now we lost everything there.” Standing beside him, Saeed Ismail, also a Syrian Kurd, said tearfully, “We lost contact with our relatives in Syria and are very worried.”Um Mohammed, 26, a housewife from Damascus, whined that “life in Syria turned into a hell because of the violence.””Due to the chaos in my country many people were killed with no reason and empty houses were looted,” she said, “Kurdistan welcomed us and we are very grateful.”

By Mustafa Sabah / Edited by Mu Xuequan