Crisis

Iraqi widows struggle for money, security in unofficial refugee camps after ISIS violence

A view of a camp for displaced Iraqis in Khanke, Iraq. SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images

When the Islamic State stormed northern Iraq in August of 2014, more than 5,000 Yazidi men were killed and 7,000 Yazidi women were abducted, devastating the local population of Christian Yazidis who lived near Mt. Sinjar. Now, the women who survived and did not flee remain, many of them displaced and living in tents in unofficial refugee camps throughout the Kurdish region, according to The Telegraph. They are part of the more than 1 million widowed women in Iraq today, many of whom live outside the system of United Nations-run refugee camps that provide financial aid, food and supplies, and security. The women in the makeshift camps struggle to provide for their families and are more vulnerable to attacks.

“[Women in camps] are at higher risk of sexual exploitation and harassment because the community structure has fallen apart,” Rezhna Mohammad, director of psychological services for local charity SEED, told The Telegraph.

Layla Yousef, a 38-year-old whose husband was killed by ISIS fighters, has been raising her family alone in the two years since she lost her husband. She has faced financial hardship and restrictions on mobility, as women are not supposed to be seen out and about without a male relative.

“It’s unfair because there are so many women who don’t have men to accompany them but they have to stand on their own two feet and provide for their families,” Yousef told The Telegraph.

Read the full story at The Telegraph.

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