WATCH: Syrian Kurdish refugee runs vet clinic in Erbil camp, talks animal rights

Ayaz, a Syrian Kurd living in the Kawergosk camp near the Kurdistan Region’s capital of Erbil, fled the civil war which has been plaguing his country for nearly eight years.
author_image Nadia Riva

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A young Syrian Kurdish refugee has been appealing for other animal-lovers to help in bettering the fate of stray animals in the Kurdistan Region while running a veterinary clinic in a camp.

Ayaz, a Syrian Kurd living in the Kawergosk camp near the Kurdistan Region’s capital of Erbil, fled the civil war which has been plaguing his country for nearly eight years.

Before popular Syrian protests erupted across Damascus and other cities, Ayaz was a fourth-year student at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.  The conflict, however, prevented him from completing his studies, with universities closing down and violence spreading.

“I have loved animals since I was a child, so I chose to study veterinary medicine. But the situation in Syria prevented me from completing my studies,” Ayaz told Kurdistan 24.

Ayaz sought refuge in the Kurdistan Region, as hundreds of thousands of other Syrian Kurds have done, but did not let his situation affect his care of animals.

“At the beginning of my journey, there was a cat that was staying in our tent. We loved her so much, but I saw with my own eyes how her kittens died, and I decided I would start helping the animals.”

Ayaz carries his medicine bag wherever he goes, and when he finishes classes, he walks around the camp looking for sick, injured, or mistreated animals.

Kids, Ayaz says, are often times seen hurting the smaller creatures. He has called for the promotion of animal rights at the camp, hoping to raise awareness and change the culture among the newer generation toward animals.

Despite his efforts and optimism, Ayaz is often unable to provide medical treatment to sick animals due to the high price and relatively scarce access to medicine, running his operations without any third-party support.

Ayaz has rescued cats, birds, turtles, and rabbits which he keeps in his shelter at the Kawergosk camp. Thousands of Syrians still live in the refugee camp, which was the first to be established in Erbil province in 2014.

(Chiman Adil contributed to this report)