Published October 16, 2012
Domiz Refugee Camp in Iraqi Kurdistan offers a haven for Syrian Kurds fleeing violence and poverty in Syria. Here, they can go to nearby cities to find work, visit hospitals, join the army of the Kurdish Regional Government, or simply rest in the tent city. Like refugees anywhere, their future is uncertain.
One hundred and twenty miles south, the refugees of Makhmour camp remember well how they first arrived in Iraqi Kurdistan, pushed across the border by Turkish forces, although it happened 30 years ago. Today, they remain where they landed, fenced into a patch of inhospitable Iraqi desert, in concrete homes that long ago replaced tents. They take solace in the Kurdish nationalistic politics that offer them comfort and purpose, while making it impossible for them to leave.
Both populations of refugees feel at home in greater Kurdistan. But while those in Domiz camp can hardly see to tomorrow, those in Makhmour camp know all too well what tomorrow brings. Do Kurdish refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan trade mobility for nationalism? Is the future of Domiz apparent in the present of Makhmour?