Children's stories from Iraq   Syria   Ukraine   Iran

…»Where do you come from?«
»From the wide world.«
»Where do you want to go?«
»Where is your home?«
»Where is my home? I do not know.«…

— Janusz Korczak: Little King Matty and the Desert Island


There has not yet been any reconciliation among the Sunnites, Shiites, Kurds and Arabs in Iraq
since the US led-invasion in 2003 and the fall of dictator Saddam Hussein.
Until the end of 2007, 4.7 million Iraqis were forced to flee from there homes, 2.7 million of them inside the country.
After IS - also called Daesh - proclaimed a caliphate in Iraq (and Syria) during the summer of 2014,
there is currently no further hope of a peaceful coexistence between the different religions and ethnicities
and especially religious minorities like the Yazidis are threatened with a genocide.
So far two million people (moderate Sunnis, Christians, Shiites, Yazidis) have fled the terrorist militia Daesh in Iraq and Syria;
approximately half of them into the relatively safe Autonomous Region of Kurdistan in northern Iraq.
At the end of December 2014, I spoke with and photographed a number of Iraqi children in a refugee camp in northern Iraq.
My thanks go to Ilyas Yanc and Khalid Tisani for their support of this project.
IS or ISIS is replaced in all the statements of the children by the term Daesh.
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When I visited a refugee camp in Iraqi-Kurdistan in December 2014, the children, I had previously talked to,
mostly wanted two things:
First, to return to their home Sinjar and to meet up again with their former friends and relatives and secondly to attend a school.
The return to Sinjar is not yet possible due to security reasons, but the second wish has been fulfilled for many children
in the refugee camp.
In October 2016 I visited the same refugee camp again; a camp with more than 26,000 inhabitants.
My thanks go to Khalid Tisani and everyone in Iraqi/Kurdistan who supported me with this work.
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The Sinjar district and the Sinjar Mountains in northwestern Iraq was the home and heartland of the Yazidis, a religious minority in Iraq, until summer 2014.
On August 3, 2014, the terrorist militia IS (from now on referred to as Daesh) launched a genocide among the Yazidis in Sinjar. Yazidi men and elderly Yazidi women, who couldn't escape, were murdered by Daesh and buried in mass graves. At least 6,800 younger Yazidi women and children were captured by Daesh. Women and girls were brutally abused and sold as sex slaves. Yazidi boys were brainwashed by Daesh with the aim of using them as fighters in terror operations.
In November 2015, an alliance of Kurdish and Yazidi militias, backed by the US Air Force, succeeded in forcing Daesh from Sinjar.
To this day, however, the majority of former residents of Sinjar are living in refugee camps in northern Iraq or have emigrated abroad.
In addition, thousands of Yazidis are still living in tents in the Sinjar Mountains, where they escaped to from Daesh in 2014. Only a fraction of the former population has returned to Sinjar — the security situation is too dangerous, in some areas there are still mines and booby traps and destroyed infrastructure has not yet been rebuilt.
At the end of April 2019, I visited a refugee camp in northern Iraq for the third time. There I again met children from Sinjar, with whom I had already spoken at the end of 2014 shortly after their escape.
In addition, I visited the Sinjar district and talked to and took photos of children in the Sinjar Mountains, where they have now been living for five years, in tents and under harsh conditions.
I thank Khalid Tisani, Khaleel Naser Sulaiman, Ilyas Yanc, Sahab Dag, a special thank to Jalal Daoud and everyone in Iraq who supported me and my work.
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Seven years after fleeing from the Genocide, around 210,000 Yazidis continue to live under difficult conditions in the internally displaced persons (IDP's) camps of the Autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Nearly 150,000 Yazidi IDPs have returned to their ancestral homeland.
The situation is Sinjar remain complex; the infrastructure is destroyed and very little has been rebuilt, the majority of people are unemployed and the security is unstable.
Many factors contribute to instability including the dispute on Sinjar between the central government in Bagdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government, corruption and nepotism and the presence of a number of armed groups, including the PKK and PMF.
Sinjar has recently became a region with a strong regional geopolitical influence and precedes. The policies of foreign powers in Iraq such as Turkey and Iran is one of the reasons deterring many IDPs who fled from the Sinjar region from returning home.
At the end of October 2021, I returned to a refugee camp in northern Iraq near the town of Zakho and also in the Sinjar Mountains, where I met the children again who I had previously portrayed two and a half years ago.
I also interviewed Mr. Alexander Hug (head of the Iraq programme of the ICMP - International Commission on Missing People).
I thank Nora, Khalid and a special thank to Jalal Daoud and everyone in Iraq who supported me and my work.
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