A landfill bringing Iraqis together, one garbage truck at a time

Many people probably never ask themselves where all the garbage in a city like Erbil ends up. Since there is no power or recycling plant to take care of it, it gets collected and ends up on a fairly big landfill just outside of Kurdistan’s capital. When my colleague Florian Neuhof recently told me about this place, I went there to check it out myself. I had an interest in this place also for the fact that my very first story as a photojournalist was the community of the Christian garbage collectors of Egypt’s capital Cairo. To my surprise, people …

Lalish – Yazidis’ home

I recently visited Lalish, the center of the Yazidi religion that came to fame after the Islamic state persecuted the approximately 650.000 members of this ancient religion in Iraq. Lalish can be easily visited from Duhok with a taxi, it takes about 30 to 40 minutes to get there. The valley is especially beautiful and green in spring. Fortunately, non-Yazidis are allowed to enter the perimeters of the place and can even enter the temple, where Sheikh Adi is buried. Only Yazidis can enter the aisles beneath the temple where the two holy springs can be reached, though. The two …

German Army training the Peshmerga in the Kurdistan Training Coordination Center

Today I visited the German army a second time in the Zeravani compound east of Erbil to do an update about the training they do for the Peshmerga. I visited them the first time last year around this month. The German army press spokesperson says that they have stepped up the limit of German forces a little bit to 150 soldiers, but that at the same time there is no need for any more soldiers. Other forces contributing training and advising to Barzani’s Peshmergas are Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Italy. To my surprise, the battalion that is currently being …

A visit to Halabja

Today I visited the city of Halabja in Kurdistan, Iraq. A city that came to unexpected fame on March 16th 1988, when it was heavily gassed with chemical agents by the Iraqi air force. Approximately up to 5000 Kurdish people died in the attack. In 2016, the city remains a conservative PUK stronghold merely 10 kilometres away from the border with Iran. I didn’t dare to use my Arabic on the Kurds residing in this small city that can be easily reached from Sulaimaniyyah. Many say this was the turning point for the Kurds living under Saddam Hussein when he …

The War Zone Freelance Exhibition in Berlin

On March 18, my friends and colleagues over at the War Zone Freelance Exhibition opened their newest exhibition in the venues of the Sprechsaal in Berlin, Germany. They show the work they have done over the years from countries like Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, or Jordan. The exhibition also includes various footage from their journeys and stresses the important work of translators and fixers, whom we journalists are in close relation with in order to do our job. On Thursday, they will have a panel discussion on how the media deals with graphic footage from war zones. If you can, go …