Chronic Diseases: The Forgotten War Trauma

CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Ibrahim Sherkhan

Ezzat, was displaced to the Sharia Camp 4 years and a half ago. He is originally from Sinjar and suffers from diabetes and hypertension.

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Before moving to the camp, I only had hypertension. But I became diabetic and my hypertension became worse.. I am not feeling well now.

Diabetes without candies

Ghaliah, 14 years, has diabetes. She needs to go to the medical center frequently to test her blood sugar levels.

CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Ibrahim Sherkhan

 Ghaliah is one of many children who suffer from chronic diseases that do not usually affect young people, but is rather a side effect of war and conflict.

Stress and the harsh living conditions are the main causes of diabetes among displaced people in the camp.

Dr. Kofan, a general practitioner said:

A mother saw her son being kidnapped in front of her eyes. Day after another, she kept looking back on that painful experience which sticks deep in her mind. She consequently got diabetes.

What people eat also has a role in getting hypertension and diabetes. People who live in a camp do not have healthy food options. They have to eat whatever food is available.

More than 400,000 people have been displaced to Duhok since 2014, in search of a safe life to escape the horrors of war.


CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Ibrahim Sherkhan

Most displaced people came from Sharia Camp in Sinjar in Nineveh and Mosul governorates.

80% of them are Yazidis.

150000 displaced persons are living in 17 camps.

The remaining 250000 are scattered in different regions.

The return of displaced people to their homes can be theoretically easy, yet practically difficult for more than one reason, the most important of which are:

Instability, insecurity, the absence of necessary public utilities and services, insufficient funds for rehabilitation and the spread of unemployment.

The distance between the camp in Duhok in Iraq and the nearest hospital is 18 km.

It takes 20 minutes by car…

Many residents of the camp depend on the health center on a daily basis for regular health checkups and receive medications that are not available in the camp.

In the past, residents had to move almost daily at their own expenses.

This was a financial challenge because their financial resources are limited, and they cannot always afford to use means of transportation.

And it was a health challenge as well for patients with chronic diseases, whether young or old.

There were also weather challenges since it is very hot in the summer and roads have poor drainage systems…

Thanks to the support of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the distance between camp residents and the nearest health center is now one km.

The new health center, which is one of four centers we helped to establish in the region, reduces the burden of disease on civilians in Duhok. More than 5,000 patients are registered in these centers which serve 100 patients daily…

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Source : Icrc