By Chris Niles
ERBIL, Iraq, 13 October 2013 — On a hot Sunday afternoon in Darashakran refugee camp in Kurdistan, four girls are on their way to collect water. They range in age from 10 to 12 and are carrying plastic water containers and saucepans.
“Today we fetch water,” Arleen, 10, says. “The tanker comes every day.”
Darashakran camp is very new. Work began on its construction in June.
More than 63,000 Syrian refugees have flooded into Iraq since the border opened in mid August.
Darashakran is designed as a permanent camp, which will eventually hold about 10,000 of those refugees. Each family has its own bathroom and kitchen and each tent is placed on a concrete platform, which will better help families withstand the rigors of a northern Iraqi winter.
Families are trucked in with their belongings strapped to the top of buses. They’ve come from transit camps such as Baherka and Baserma. But the camp is nowhere near full.
Narleen and her friends are happy to interrupt their chores and sing a song for some visitors to the camp. It’s early days, the school is still under construction and although Narleen’s friend Lava says she has a sore throat, there is not yet any medical facility.
But thanks to the support of the government of Kuwait, fully functioning water and sanitation facilities and sewerage disposal system are almost completed for the nearly 2,000 families who will eventually make their home here. Each family will have its own latrine and bath—a vast improvement on the conditions in transit camps, where several families share a single toilet.
Each family’s unit, including latrine, bath with its sewerage disposal, costs $US2,000.
“Safe water and sanitation are the foundation of good health,” said UNICEF Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Officer Ali Auob. “The generous contribution of the government and people of Kuwait is making an important difference to the health and living standards of Syrian refugees living in Iraq.”