Traumatizing home – map 5

Amera Ibrahim is a biologist who at the time of interview was working as an associate for Sinjar Academy (a charity supporting the education of Yazidis in Iraq) who is originally from the North of Sinjar. Born shortly before 2003 in Sinjar, Amera’s encounter with violence and trauma was at the hands of ISIS in 2014. Her map charts multiple journeys of displacement between camps in the North of Iraq moving from tents to cabins, until a return, against all odds, back to Sinjar.

Amera recalls:

There was no time to discuss anything, there was chaos. We went along with another five families who were relatives who together decided to get out of Sinjar and head towards the mountain. Adults were in charge as they knew the shortcuts, and routes through the mountain that would be difficult for ISIS to trace, and we, the children, just followed.

When we arrived at the camp Bersivi in Zakho, we were only given tents. After a while, international organisations tried to help us with some equipment (cooking, cleaning, etc). After that people started improvising and improving their tents, so for example, we created gardens to grow trees between tents. We had more tent material and made extra spaces or partitions inside. After two years we moved to Rwanga camp and lived there for three years as it was safer than others. The gardens were the only places that resembled life back in Sinjar before ISIS.

We completed school inside the camp and after that, we went to the university, then we were able to go out and come back to the camp. It was very difficult at the beginning, but after a while we adapted to the new life in the camp. People who lived outside the camp in the Kurdistan Region also adapted with time. The government needs to help rebuild Sinjar, even if this means building a small house for each family. Camps are not safe places for living. Fires have burnt so many tents and we lost so many people to accidents like these. That is why we decided to leave the camps and return to Sinjar.