Residents of Shaqlawa could not expect that, soon after the fall of Fallujah in the hands of ISIS in January 2014 and during the subsequent crisis, their small town on the mountains not far from Erbil would have turned into the shelter of thousands of displaced Iraqis.
Right now, the population of the displaced doubles the residents, with around 40,000 IDPs living in shelters, houses and hotels, filling the streets of what once was a famous touristic destination, changing the life and demography of the small kurdish town.
30/08/15. Shaqlawa, Iraq. -- A view of an old neighborhood of Shaqlawa a city of 20.000 people, now home to more than 40.000 internally displaced people, mostly from Al Anbar province. 29/08/15. Shaqlawa, Iraq. -- Displaced children from Falluja hang their washing on ropes outside the basement where they have been living for the past year and a half. 11 families live in the building, each of them using a 3 by 4 meters' room for which they pay 300.000 IQD (250usd). 29/08/15. Shaqlawa, Iraq. -- Imad, 38 y.o. from Falluja lives in a 12 square meters room in a basement of a disused building at the centre of the bazar, and for which he pays 300.00 IQD (250usd) per month. A former employee of the ministry of industry in Falluja, Imad lives with his wife and two children. He says "we don't complain about the rats and mice: we live with them, we got used. But the snakes, those are dangerous, they are silent, and they bite." 29/08/15. Shaqlawa, Iraq. -- The children of Sabah, 48, from Falluja, sleep inside a windowless room, in the basement of a residential complex. The complex was bought by a rich man from Falluja at the end of 2013. The man is now renting out the 16 apartments as well as the basement to displaced families for 250 usd each. 21/05/15. Shaqlawa, Iraq. -- Ali (left) 18 y.o. from Falluja is affected by a muscular dystrophy. He needs a wheelchair to move around. He lives with his mother and father, three sisters and two brothers. Othman, 5 y.o. (right), one of Ali's brothers, has a genetic, degenerative condition for which he will loose his sight. It is the same condition that also affects his father. The family lives in an old house, with two rooms and a kitchen for which they pay approximately 400.000 IQD. 12/06/15. Shaqlawa, Iraq. -- In Seirmaidan area displaced people have built a makeshift market, where they sell mainly vegetable and fruit. 25/08/15. Shaqlawa, Iraq. -- Young IDPs from Falluja play football in the evening. They organize themselves in teams and play several times a week. 28/08/15. Shaqlawa, Iraq. -- A portrait of Fawziya and her youngest son (24) Mohamed, displaced from Falluja. Fawziya does not remember if she is 45 or 46. She has been living in Shaqlawa with her two sons and their families for the past 7 months. They left Falluja after that one day a bomb hit and destroyed their house killing Fawziya's daughter. In Shaqlawa they are renting two small concrete shacks, for which they pay 400 usd. 30/08/15. Shaqlawa, Iraq. -- The electric cables post in an old neighborhood of Shaqlawa. 29/08/15. Shaqlawa, Iraq. -- Whalid, 25 from Falluja came to Shaqlawa with his father, brother and sisters in the spring of 2014. Falluja became too dangerous with the governmental army shelling and mortaring the city day after day. 20/05/15. Shaqlawa, Iraq. -- A displaced Christian boy from Qaraqosh inside the courtyard at … church. Around 800 Christian families have arrived to Shaqlawa since August 2014. Most of them have now been moved to shipping containers in a new camp in Erbil. 28/08/15. Shaqlawa, Iraq. -- A view of the cemetery in Shaqlawa. Many of the newer graves held the bodies of Anbaris who had fled war temporarily and not made it back. 28/08/15. Shaqlawa, Iraq. -- Jaser, from Falluja, washes his father's grave in the new part of Shaqlawa's graveyard. His father died two months after arriving to Shaqlawa as a displaced person, early 2014. 29/08/15. Shaqlawa, Iraq. -- Two friends originally from Falluja look at their new city at dusk. 29/08/15. Shaqlawa, Iraq. -- Nouri, a 70 y.o. retired army officer, now lives at the four star hotel Basma Alsafeer, in Shaqlawa city centre. At the hotel he shares two rooms with his sons’ families: one suit for 1million IQD and a room for 700.000 IQD. His sons are all goldsmiths, but they could not find a job suitable for them, and have therefore been without a job for the past 18 months. "Here we don't miss anything, but I feel like a tourist: I hope to go back home soon, I wouldn't have left if my family did not beg me to". 28/06/14. Shaqlawa, Iraq. -- A view of Shaqlawa at night with two Internally displaced people walking up the hill. 29/08/15. Shaqlawa, Iraq. -- A group of young displaced people from Al Anbar province play cards in a garden at the centre of the bazar where they meet regularly at the end of each day. 04/06/2014. Shaqlawa, Iraq. -- A group of displaced men from Al Anbar and Syria sleep on the floor at the Gazino cafe, where they all work as waiters. 29/08/15. Shaqlawa, Iraq. -- Omar, 35 y.o. from Falluja. Every morning Omar sits on the side of the main street in Seirmaidan where Kurdish building companies collect workers when needed for the day. He will stay there from 6 in the morning until 11. When he works he usually makes 25-30.000 IQD. 26/08/15. Shaqlawa, Iraq. -- Salh(right), 20 y.o. from Baghdad and a friend who prefers to remain anonymous from Falluja work as garbage collectors. They work every day and earn 450.000 IQD (about 350usd) per month. Salh is trying to save money because he wants to resume studying to finish high school. 29/08/15. Shaqlawa, Iraq. -- Sabah, 48 y.o. from Falluja inside her house, in the basement of a residential complex. Sabah left Falluja when the bakery of her son Omar was hit by a barrel bomb which killed him. She lives with her 4 children and pay 350.000 IQD for rent each month. He husband lives in Baharka camp, Erbil with his new wife, and only comes to Shaqlawa to freshen up when Erbil gets too hot. "I could not sleep last night: I was thinking of the rent, and how to pay it. I sold all we had just to pay rent, but now we have nothing left". 30/08/15. Shaqlawa, Iraq. -- A view of Sarmeidan area, Shaqlawa from Sorek mountain. 26/08/15. Shaqlawa, Iraq. -- Displaced children from Al Anbar province play at dusk, outside their houses in Seirmaidan. 11 families live in this neighborhood (Tajawaz area), where they rent small houses from Kurdish families. Each small house comprises of a bedroom and a kitchen and cost about 350.000 IQD per month. The houses were built by the owners without authorization from the municipality and are deemed inhabitable. 29/08/15. Shaqlawa, Iraq. -- Zaid, 28 y.o. escaped from Falluja in January 2014, when ISIS entered the city and the Iraqi army started shelling the city indiscriminately. He works with other IDPs in Erbil as orientation worker with an international NGO. Zaid is married and has one daughter, but he has not seen them for the past two years. His father in law one day took them away from him, and he has not been able to track them down ever since. He only has one photo of them on his phone. 29/08/15. Shaqlawa, Iraq. -- Ali, 50 y.o., also known as Abu Chai (the father of tea) arrived from Falluja in January 2014 and now lives in a room that costs 600.000 IQD per month. Having only one son, Omar - who is 12 y.o. (left) among his 6 children, Ali is the only one in the family that works. He sells cups of tea for 500 IQD each at the centre of Shaqlawa. 29/08/15. Shaqlawa, Iraq. -- A view of the mountains surrounding Shaqlawa. 30/08/15. Shaqlawa, Iraq. -- An old neighborhood of Shaqlawa, where several displaced families from Al Anbar province live among the local population. 26/08/15. Shaqlawa, Iraq. -- The inside of the house of one of the 11 displaced families in Tajawaz area. 11 families live in this neighborhood, where they rent small houses from Kurdish families. Each small house comprises of a bedroom and a kitchen and cost about 350.000 IQD per month. The houses were built by the owners without authorization from the municipality and are deemed inhabitable. 29/08/15. Shaqlawa, Iraq. -- Displaced children from Falluja in the residential complex where they live with their families. The complex was bought by a rich man from Falluja at the end of 2013. The man is now renting out the 16 apartments as well as the basement to displaced families for 250 usd each. 09/06/15. Shaqlawa, Iraq. -- The main street of Shaqlawa's centre, with shops, restaurants and cafes. Shaqlawa is a famous touristic destination attracting tourists from the whole of Iraq before the beginning of the crisis. Today it is home to more than 40.000 IDPs. 29/08/15. Shaqlawa, Iraq. -- The children of Mohamed, 24 y.o. from Falluja, help their father move inside a new house. Mohamed arrived to Shaqlawa in January 2015 with his family, his mother and his brother's family. They lived in two separate houses, but they are now going to live all together (12 people) inside a 2 rooms house to save money on the rent. 20/05/15. Shaqlawa, Iraq. -- A group of locals play volleyball at dusk, outside of Shaqlawa. Relationships between the hosting community and the displaced families have been generally good. 28/08/15. Shaqlawa, Iraq. -- Tahrir, 34 y.o. from Falluja, opened a makeshift stall inside an unfinished building in thee centre of Shaqlawa where he sells fruit and vegetables.