WHERE WE WORK
SORAN, IRAQI KURDISTAN is home to about 125,000 people, of which 65% of them are refugees who’ve come back to Iraq over the past decade. Diana, meaning “Christian,” is the capital, and it was historically a small village of Chaldeans long before the displaced came to the region. To this day, the Chaldeans still inhabit an area of the the city, and they continue to live in peace with their Muslim neighbors.
Soran City—which borders Iran and Turkey in the far northeastern corner of Iraq—is hedged in by some of the region's tallest mountains. Thus, it is invariably a safe haven for many. Decades after Saddam's regime, those that fled Iraq to Iran have returned to Iraq and settled in and around the district of Soran, as their home villages were unlivable piles of rubble still threatened by the PKK and bombs from the Turks.
Following ISIS's recent advancement in the region, the Yazidis of Sinjar, Arabs from the South, and refugees from Syria have been added to the montage of folks in the district. And though Soran is lacking in funds from the Iraqi government to support even themselves, they are doing anything and everything to accommodate the influx of people—knowing full well the region's stability is indefinite. Arguably, Soran's “hospitality” towards newcomers can be attributed almost entirely to having been alienated once themselves.