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Heartbreaking Photos From A Syrian Refugee Camp For The Yazidi Fleeing ISIS In Iraq

The Nowruz refugee camp in Syria has grown from 100 to 12,000 in four days, according to the International Rescue Committee.

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This child and her mother are among the estimated 55,000 Yazidi who in recent days have escaped from Sinjar mountain in northern Iraq and traveled over 40 miles by foot to seek refuge from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Many have crossed into neighboring Syria and some have settled at the Nowruz Camp in the border town of Derike, which was initially built to house 20 Syrian families displaced by violence in their home village.


At first, the camp housed 100 people and had only 12 latrines and bathing spots. Now its population has grown to 12,000 since August 10.

Rachel Unkovic/International Rescue Committee

A family of 70 sleeps in this tent. It was meant to be a meeting hall, but turned into a residence because of housing shortages.

The temperatures can reach up to 120F in Nowruz. There is little shade and residents can either spend days in boiling tents or in the heat outside. In winter, the area gets very cold.

Of the 12,000 Yazidi now in the camp, one in three arrived needing immediate medical care. Here, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) treats an old women for acute dehydration. IRC, a humanitarian relief organization, treats about 400 patients a day.

Families continue to pour in. Usually new arrivals stop at the medical tents first, where the IRC treats them for dehydration, high blood pressure, sun stroke, and emotional exhaustion.

The Yazidi arrive with nearly nothing; many fled their homes at the start of August with no warning or preparation. Now the IRC gives out basics like blankets, soap, towels, lights, and cellphone charges. Much more is needed.

The Yazidi who arrive at Nowruz have lived through horrors. But at the camp there is no room for privacy, and resources are critically low. These siblings live with their entire family — which totals 15 — in a tent meant to hold five.

Former BuzzFeed World Reporter, Current BuzzFeed News Contributor

Contact Miriam Berger at

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