Khazir refugee camp, Iraq – Last month, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were forced to flee the conflict in north Iraq as the Islamic State group captured cities including Mosul and Talafar.
While thousands quickly sought safety with family and friends, or at hotels, in Iraq’s Kurdish region, hundreds of others were forced to take respite at the Khazir refugee camp, 50km east of Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul. The camp now holds 2,000 people, according to the United Nations World Food Programme.
After an influx of an unprecedented number of internally displaced Iraqis, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) put tight restrictions on who it allowed to go through the checkpoint on the outskirts of Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdish region.
Many arrived at the camp with nothing but the clothes on their back, and told stories of horror and fear as the Islamic State group swept through their cities. Some families have also been forced to sleep on the side of the road in the blistering heat as they await a visa to enter the Kurdish region.
Kurdish Peshmerga officers at the checkpoint into Erbil told Al Jazeera that non-Kurdish Iraqis – Christians being the only exception – must apply for a visa or get a Kurdish sponsor to gain entry.