[Published here on November 3, 2014]
In recent years, a hard earned record for security and stability had gained the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq a reputation as a booming business center. Headlines splashed across magazines and newspapers comparing the growth of Erbil, the Kurdish region’s capital, to Dubai’s meteoric expansion. However, the summer of 2014 challenged that idea as a new phase of turbulence gripped the whole country. The onslaught of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants, who have taken control of large swathes of the country and carved a bloody path towards Erbil and Baghdad, was a stark reminder to all that Kurdistan is not immune to trouble in the neighborhood. But like the glittering hyperbole surrounding the rise of Erbil, the doom and gloom painted since the rise of ISIS may also be overstated. The situation is far from stable, but investors, analysts and business people focusing on the area say it won’t push them out, and it certainly won’t derail Kurdish development.
From left to right: Jilan, 16, and Iman, 17, who live in the Domiz refugee camp. Image by James Haines-Young
[Published here August 4, 2014]
Since the beginning of the conflict more than three years ago, Syria’s death toll sits horrifyingly somewhere over 120,000. But the real number of destroyed lives is much higher: Three million refugees, scattered throughout the region, escaped the war alive. Though they survived, their homes have been demolished, their memories faded, and their dreams rendered impossible. Painstakingly, some women who turned into widows or single parents have tried to reassemble their lives, readjusting hopes and goals to fit a harsh new reality. Here is one story of a women-led household—a rare occurrence in the Middle East—inside the Domiz refugee camp in Iraq.
[Published here March 18, 2014]
ON MARCH 8th, while the world celebrated International Women’s Day to recognise progress in women’s rights, two women in Iraqi Kurdistan set themselves on fire. Self-immolation as a dramatic and deadly form of protest by women is known across the Middle East, from Egypt to Pakistan. But it has become alarmingly common in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq. By some estimates self-burning has claimed the lives of as many as 10,000 women, including girls as young as 13, since the region gained autonomy in 1991.
[Published here March 14, 2014]
Herfeta, an ethnically Kurdish Syrian refugee living in northern Iraq. Image by James Haines-Young
View this powerful photo essay here.