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Iraq - life in Laylan camp during COVID-19
We don’t fear coronavirus. If it happens it’s our fate and everybody has his own time.
My name is Ibrahim. I am 60 years old and am living with a disability. I’m from the town of Abbasi in Hawija but have been displaced since the Islamic State (IS) group attacked in 2017. First I moved to Haj Ali camp and then later to Laylan Camp. I was injured in the Iraq-Iran war which is why my left foot in amputated.
I’ve been living in Laylan camp for about a year. I have several children, some of them are married. We live as five in each tent. Each four tents use a joint bathroom.
Our main problem is food, we feel forgotten.
My first wife died because of the grief she felt for her son who died. I’m suffering from high blood pressure and my current wife has kidney disease. Last year our family lost a five-month-old baby because of the cold. After that there was blanket distribution and kerosene for heating.
"Cleanliness in the camp depends on each families cleaning habits. A month ago, we were given us bars of soap but that’s not for cleaning toilets. For that we get no cleaning liquids. Also the amount of soap is not enough for my big family. Now I cannot bathe"
Two of my sons work so we can eat. They work outside of the camp as daily workers. One of these sons is married and has children of his own. With the curfew (imposed after coronavirus), my sons are not able to find work. But we manage, we get some onions and tomatoes from here and there.
Cleanliness in the camp depends on each families cleaning habits. A month ago, we were given us bars of soap but that’s not for cleaning toilets. For that we get no cleaning liquids. Also the amount of soap is not enough for my big family. Now I cannot bathe.
We don’t fear coronavirus. If it happens it’s our fate and everybody has his own time. We know there are ways for protection, like wearing masks and staying away from crowds. We got a donation of one mask for each person a month ago. We wore for half a day and then tossed it.
If one of us gets COVID-19, we will call the hospital. I hear that symptoms include fever and body shaking. We got two month stock of medications for our chronic diseases from MSF, so we’re ok on this side. Our main problem is food. We feel forgotten. The water available for drinking here is contains salts, and we have to boil it and then cool it and drink it.
With the curfew, God takes care of us.
I am from Al Zab and I am 46-years-old. When the conflict started we were very affected and came to the camp. I was displaced to the Haj Ali camp initially and came here in September 2019. I have seven children - all boys. The oldest was born in 2007 and the youngest was born in 2015.
Living conditions are fine in the camp and four of my children are studying. But with the curfew they cannot get to school.
I just get food and give petty cash to my children when I have money. And when I don’t have money I give thanks to God. I don’t work but we have enough.
With the curfew, God takes care of us. I go with my boys to the market to buy flour. One of my children tried to find some work in Kirkuk transporting goods on a trolley. He faced difficulties in finding jobs in Kirkuk before, but when he goes now he doesn’t find any work. He went two or three times since the pandemic and did not find anything. Sometimes he comes back crying. I told him to stop going.
Impossible to maintian social distancing
There is enough water in the camp and there are bathrooms. But there is a lot of people using them and I feel embarrassed to see a lot of men around when I go. Also it gets so crowded that we cannot get in. There is only two bathrooms in this area. The other bathrooms are far away and I’m not young.
The residents of 4-5 tents use the same bathroom. Around 16 people use two toilets - one for men and one for women. When I need to have a shower I take a shower inside the tent, and I also bathe the kids inside the tent. We manage.
The families keep the bathroom clean and I go to clean after my kids and the people in the other tents are also clean and at times they disinfect the bathrooms. If one of us gets coronavirus we will go to the doctor if they get a fever.
We’re all healthy except for one of my sons, he has had problems since birth, and he’s not able to urinate properly. The doctors said that it’s a kidney problem or his tract is blocked, he was crying a lot, and he needed an operation but it was not possible. He took the medicine and his pains come and go.
I’m now not able to get the specialised medicine for him. At Haj Ali camp they promised to call me for him to go into operation, but that never happened. I have another child who has hernia. The doctor told me he has it since his birth, and asked me to come back a month later. Months went by and I did not go, and now he needs an operation. I get tired of going to the doctors so often. I don’t like to go out of the camp. It’s too far away.