UN Geneva Delegation visits Dorcas in northern Iraq

A special delegation from Geneva visited Dorcas’ work in Duhok in February.  Together with the Dorcas team the delegation visited our work in Chamisko, a camp for people that have fled war and violence within Iraq itself. Dorcas Program Manager Samuel Osekeny: “We are proud of the work we do so passionately and this visit confirms the importance of our work.”

The day started with a visit to the camp management in Chamisko Camp. Life inside the camp can be very challenging. People inside the camp are often traumatized by the recent war and the losses that came with it. The camp offers shelter and basic services to the people that lost their homes and livelihoods, but the services available to them are often limited in both volume and quality.

Hence, during the visit the emphasis was on the challenges faced by the individuals inside the camp and the challenges faced by the camp management to provide the most basic services and address the most urgent needs.

Shelter for displaced people
The delegation, represented by UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and IDPs (Internally Displaced People), Ms. Cecilia Jimenez-Damary and Mr. William S. Chemaly (UNHCR), the Global Protection Cluster Coordinator, discussed the situation for IDP’s inside the camp with the camp management. The camps in Iraq are managed by a government body called the Board of Relief and Humanitarian Affairs (BRHA), often with support from one of the UN agencies.

After the discussion with the camp management, the delegation visited the camp itself. During this visit, the accessibility and basic structure of the camp were discussed. This visit was concluded by a private meeting with a family inside the camp.

Community center brings women together
Later on, the delegation visited the camp community center, established by Dorcas. Here, the delegation and the Dorcas team worked together on conducting a number of group sessions with people from inside the camp, with the view on gathering opinions and needs faced by the camp population on a daily basis.  During these sessions the most urgent needs were discussed. For example, the women in the camp face hindrance in finding employment or business opportunities.

Not having an income does not only lead to a fragile economic situation; it can also lead to an increasing chance of falling victim to domestic violence or (for young girls) early marriages for economic gain. The jobless women also struggle to pay for medical services and medicine.

Many women inside the camp deal with severe mental health issues. Most of the women inside the camp have lived through the most horrible situations during the war, resulting in PTST and other event-related mental issues. Money for phycological services is often not available to them. 

Difficulties of returning home
The people that live inside camps like Chamisko are oftentimes stuck there. They want to return to their areas of origin, but their return is impeded by the lack of services and opportunities in their respective regions, and the continuing threat and fear of violence and turmoil. On top of that, most IDPs’ properties have been severely damaged or entirely destroyed during the war.

Some of them want to return, but have noting to return to. To return home, people need to have their civil and legal documentation in place. To many, these documents, or other services required, are not available. Dorcas works every day with a team of lawyers to provide individuals willing to go home with the necessary services and assistance.

During the group sessions, the people expressed their satisfaction with the work Dorcas is delivering, but it is never enough. The services we provide are dependent on limited funding, which makes it hard for us to make the change we envisage.

Important work
The group sessions were concluded with a word from Ms. Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, who expressed her gratitude towards Dorcas for the work we do inside the camp. Dorcas Program Manager Samuel Osekeny says about the visit: “We are proud of the work we do so passionately and this visit confirms the importance of our work. We hope we can continue doing what we do, providing assistance to the people that need us the most.”

03 March 2020

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