DUHOK—“My child is clever, she loved her school,” says Fryal Muhammad, a protective arm around the shoulders of 10-year-old Nour.
Nour was a star pupil back home in Qamishli, in northeastern Syria. Now, like many others who fled the Turkish military incursion on October 9, Muhammad is worried about their future.
“Our house was destroyed by a bomb. I was in the back yard and my arm was injured but my daughter wasn’t hurt,” she said. Terrified, the family left, joining thousands of people crowding into trucks and heading for the border. They are now living in Bardarash, a refugee camp near the Kurdish city of Duhok in northern Iraq.
“We’re safe but I want to know about schools for my daughter,” said Muhammad, whose husband is ill, leaving only her to look out for their daughter. “Our situation in the camp is difficult. We ran away from the war and now we’re here and her future is not guaranteed.”
Months Out of School
Rows of tents gleam bright white at Bardarash, which looks stark against the muddy landscape. Initially set up for displaced Iraqis, the camp was called into emergency use when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched a continuing offensive to seize control of land in northeastern Syria from the Kurdish-led YPG militia, which Ankara views as part of a terrorist group that it has been battling for decades in Turkey.
Bardarash soon swelled to capacity as more than 17,000 Syrian Kurds fled the violence. In recent weeks, some have returned to Syria, but many say it’s too dangerous to go back and hope to rebuild their lives in Iraq or abroad.
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For parents, this means getting their children back into education as quickly as possible. Students have lost almost three months of school and relief organizations say it may be months before they can resume classes. In the meantime, temporary learning centers in the camps offer numeracy and literacy lessons as well as sports and recreation activities, but these are no substitute for formal education.