The long walk to safety

Lazgeen and Maha were just one of thousands of families to again flee conflict in Syria. They reached safety at a UNHCR refugee camp in northern Iraq.

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© UNHCR/Firas Al-Khateeb

When an upsurge in violence hit north-east Syria in October 2019, a new wave of refugees were forced to flee. For many, like Lazgeen and Naha, it was not the first time they had been displaced by the war.

The devoted couple were married in 2012, but were forced to leave their home city almost immediately because of the fighting. For years, they fled from one area to another without ever finding safety. Lazgeen tried to make the best of a difficult situation, doing what he could to support his new family. But when the conflict flared up again, the young family had to flee once more.

After days on foot, they reached the security of Bardarash refugee camp in neighbouring Iraq’s Dohuk region, where they were welcomed by UNHCR and partners with safe shelter, warm blankets and hot meals.

Thier wedding album – one of the only things they were able to take when they were forced to flee their home in Qamishli.

Thier wedding album – one of the only things they were able to take when they were forced to flee their home in Qamishli. Photo: © UNHCR/Firas Al-Khateeb

"We feel relieved. Despite the hardship, at least we are safe here."

"We feel relieved. Despite the hardship, at least we are safe here." Photo: © UNHCR/Firas Al-Khateeb

This tent is the temporary shelter for Lazgeen, 25, Maha, 22, and their baby daughter Meera

This tent is the temporary shelter for Lazgeen, 25, Maha, 22, and their baby daughter Meera. Photo: © UNHCR/Firas Al-Khateeb

In their small but secure tent, Lazgeen and Maha often show their daughter Meera photos from their wedding album – a reminder of happier times and one of the few belongings they were able to bring.

Lazgeen is grateful for the help he has received thanks to UNHCR supporters, saying:

“We feel relieved. Despite the hardship, at least we are safe here. Even now in times of distress, when I look at Meera or play with her, I feel relieved and alive.”

Learn more about the Syrian crisis.