[Publisher's introduction: Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi]: Previously on my site I documented through an interview some experiences of Iraqi refugees residing in the area of north Aleppo countryside near the borders with Turkey. Earlier this year I got to know of another Iraqi refugee who was in the area and has recently returned back to her homeland, so now she is a returnee. In an article for my site, she talks briefly about her experiences and provides some photos documenting her journey back to Iraq.
[By Mi'ad Mustafa]:
I came as a refugee from Iraq on 18 January 2016, after a siege that lasted two years in areas controlled by the Da'esh [Islamic State] organisation. I am originally from Anbar- the town of Haditha- and I came out from my town after Da'esh besieged the town and there arose cases of hunger and there were children who died. After the situation became difficult for us and the siege occurred, we took refuge to the western areas that are the town of al-Qa'im on the border with Syria. We were hoping to find a way through the Syrian borders to the borders with Turkey and from there to enter Turkey. I arrived in north Aleppo countryside on date 18 January 2016, to the refugee camp or what is called the al-Sina'a camp. I stayed there for three months. After that we moved to the Aykada camp on the border with Turkey.
The life in exile was difficult of course because of the bad living situation. The people were living on the aid of the NGOs, and this aid was not meeting the need. And the aid was an embodiment of food goods and the time separating between the distributions was long. So between one distribution and another it was around 60 days. And most of the exile women who are widows as their husbands were kidnapped or killed by the organisation [Islamic State]: they were working in the agricultural sector, with very little pay, not sufficing for a meal per day.
The Iraqis in the camps were from various regions: Anbar, Salah al-Din, Diyala, Mosul, but the majority were Tel Afar Iraqi Turkmen. The relations between us were fine.
The services situation was not good. We experienced no electricity during the time we lived in the camp. The water would come to us through cars. We were living on solar panels. And the one who cannot buy a solar panel lives on ordinary light. The water would be emptied into containers of water and we would transfer it through bottles and containers.
Some of the Syrian people were good and they treated us well, and others not, but in general you can say the majority of the Syrians treated us well.
Recently, I returned to Iraq through a voluntary journey via the Office of Migration and Displaced in the Iraqi embassy in Turkey. Of course life in Iraq is better than exile. From the outset we were buried alive in our life in exile.
Finally I would like to convey a message to the Iraqi government and the Iraqi embassy in Turkey. I direct to them a word of thanks for their efforts expended for the refugees in exile. And I hope from them that they will try hard to return every refugee in exile, especially the refugees still hanging on the Syrian-Turkish borders, because this is the worst place as I consider it.