Many of the refugees that have fled the fighting in Northern Iraq between the Iraqi military and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria have ended up sheltering in schools across the country. There are hundreds of thousands of displaced Iraqis who have left their homes for the relative safety of other areas of the country. In the Kurdish province of Khabat, more than 130,000 people have moved into 650 schools.
The influx of refugees has prompted the Kurdish government to delay the start of school for children in the region. Kids do wander through the halls decorated with colorful murals and classrooms with stacked schools desks in the corners, but there are no teachers preparing for classes in the buildings. Most suspect that the situation will continue for many more months, causing an issue for the children whose education is being delayed.
The refugees have posed a problem for local governments who have no established camps for them to move into and nowhere else for them to go. Many of the refugees have made new homes in alternative accommodations, including community centers, parking garages, and abandoned basements. While plans to build additional camps for the displaced have been made, it may be quite some time before the camps are ready for the refugees to move in.
Governments in northern Iraq have had great difficulty supplying basic services to its citizens since the conflict with ISIS began. Electricity is scarce, sanitation facilities are nearly non-existent and finding clean water is a problem for many of the refugees. Finding adequate amounts of food for everyone is another huge issue that the government and aid workers have yet to solve.
The combined forces of the Iraqi military, Kurdish pesh merga fighters, and American airstrikes are taking a toll on the ISIS fighters. However, even if the militants’ advances are rolled back, it may take many months before the refugees feel that it is safe to return to their homes.