In October, Dublin footballer Michael Darragh Macauley travelled to Iraq with Concern to meet with Syrian families who had been forced to flee their homes as a result of the conflict.
Our Director of Communications Sarah Martin, who accompanied Michael Darragh on the trip, recounts their visit.
When we got out of the van in Barderash refugee camp in the arid land of Northern Iraq, the warmth of the sun immediately hit us. It was about 26c but Concern’s liaison officer, Yahir*, told us that the rains would arrive in fifteen days and then it would rain almost non-stop for four months, wreaking havoc with floods and mud destroying the flimsy camp shelters.
I was there with Concern ambassador and Dublin footballer Michael Darragh Macauley, who had travelled to Iraq to see the reality of life for Syrian refugees.
As we walked through the camp, we saw children and mothers queuing up to get their five-litre jerry cans filled up with kerosene fuel for their stoves. Children as young as five walked past us carrying jerry cans or stacks of blankets on their heads; items that would help to keep these Syrian families warm during the cold winter ahead.
There are approximately 14,000 refugees living in Barderash camp, all of them Syrian. Most of them abandoned their homes when the nine-year crisis erupted once again with more bombing and shelling. After crossing over the border in desperation, they arrived here in the last few weeks.