Documentary

The Tale of Erbil’s Rubbish Pickers, photo essay by Aza Yousif

© Aza Yousif
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PRIVATE photo review - photographers and writers

The Tale of Erbil’s Rubbish Pickers
photo essay by Aza Yousif
Iraq

“Kanî Qirjala” waste dump outside of Erbil the capital city of Kurdistan region in Iraq is an infamously grim place where children (like these two young boys) could be seen on a daily basis sifting through garbage looking for items for resale. Image by photographer Aza Yousif. Erbil, Iraq-June 2016.

In every direction there are piles of rubbish stretch away as far as we can see. Noxious fumes emit from the waste heaps and the exhausts of refuse trucks humidify the hot air of summer. Swarms of flies rise here and there. This is “Kanî Qirjale” the rubbish dump for the City of Erbil, Iraq.

His hands are dirty but he is proud of earning clean money, and this may cost him his life. Image by photographer Aza Yousif. Erbil, Iraq-June 2016.

Erbil is the capital city of the Kurdistan Region, and the most populous area in the region as well. The city is one of the oldest inhabited areas in the world, therefore it becomes a tourist destination. While visitors stay in luxury hotels and visit The Erbil Citadel which dates to the 5th millennium BC, families work in a rubbish dump just 15 km away from the city center.

Tranquil smile, he washes his face after long hours of hard work under the burning sun. Image by photographer Aza Yousif. Erbil, Iraq-June 2016.

Refuse trucks come to deposit their load on both sides of the Erbil-Mousl Road. From time to time, the silhouette of a person, picking small portions of recyclable materials from the waste piles, disintegrate the humdrum of the view. The whole families with their children working as rubbish pickers in horrible conditions,gather here everyday to sort through the dump waste, collecting anything with the teeny value.Recyclable materials like plastic, glass, and metals, are being collected, sorted and later sold at low price.
Working here is very annoying and dangerous at the same time, workers breathe toxic fumes on a daily basis, and these due to lack of scientific sanitary landfill design in the site.

They cover their faces while searching in order to terminate the waste odor. Image by photographer Aza Yousif. Erbil, Iraq-June 2016.

The harsh reality is that the Rubbish Pickers are fulfilling a basic need in the recycling process of the area, but their working life is not healthy and consequences seem dire.

The desperate images showing the hard life of adults and children working at the site were taken by Kurdish photographer Aza Yousif.

Erbil, Iraq-June 2016, by photographer Aza Yousif.

Erbil, Iraq-June 2016, by photographer Aza Yousif.

Erbil, Iraq-June 2016, by photographer Aza Yousif.

Erbil, Iraq-June 2016, by photographer Aza Yousif.

 

 

PRIVATE photo review - photographers and writers
Dalia Raouf
the authorDalia Raouf
Writer and translator interested in art, photography, and poetry.

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