Iraqi Couple Weds In Refugee Camp
Alaa Mzahim, a young Iraqi man, was driven out of his home by the devastating war in the city of Ramadi in Iraq's Anbar province, along with his family and fiancée four months ago.
Mzahim and his partner have been living in the small 'Kilo Thmuntash' refugee camp, where they decided to get married on Friday (July 8) on the last day of the Eid holidays.
'Kilo Thmuntash' means 'The 18th kilometre refugee camp' in Arabic, referring to the distance of 18 kilometres that it is situated outside of Ramadi, the capital of Iraq's western Anbar province.
Their families tried to keep up with traditional festivities at the tented camp and arrived in a convoy of cars decorated with flowers.
They weaved their way through the tents, hooting their horns loudly and were greeted by children cheering and leading the way to the bride.
Relatives and friends from the camp danced and applauded to celebrate the young couple's union.
Mzahim's uncle, Omar Mohammed, said it was a happy occasion but, living in a refugee camp, they were not able to celebrate with the usual pomp and flair.
"We are happy, but our happiness is not complete. It will be when we return back home. Our weddings used to be beautiful, we used to park near the fountain or Miyah street and get out of our vehicles and celebrate, unlike here in the camp where it's very dusty, you can't even lower the window of the car, and you saw how hot it is but they were engaged for a long time," he said.
After the ceremony, the young couple nervously walked out of the tent with the groom's mother and uncle. An excited Mzahim said he was very happy but still longed for home.
"My happiness can't be described, and I'll be happier if we go back to our area," he said.
The Islamic State (ISIS) lost control of Ramadi at the end of last year, and the Iraqi government's fight to recapture the city was a bloody and long battle that left thousands of people displaced and dead.
Residents, once numbering nearly half a million, had mostly fled to refugee camps.
Their homes are laced with bombs set by ISIS, which Iraqi commanders say aimed to delay their forces' advances and generate maximum destruction.