A 23-year-old who spent years of his life stuck in a camp in Iraq before seeking refuge in Armidale said the inland city's settlement services are lacking.
It's a claim that has been disputed by Settlement Services International, who provide support to the Armidale refugee community for five years after they arrive in the city.
On August 3, 2014, ISIS attacked Anwar Hakrsh's village in the small town of Sinjar/Shingal in Northern Iraq. Mr Hakrsh remembers people fleeing to the Sinjar mountain while ISIS killed men and kidnapped women.
Syrian forces helped him into Syria and then to camps in Zakho in Northern Iraq, where thousands of people still live.
"To be honest living there is really, really, really hard for everybody," Mr Hakrsh told the Leader.
The 23-year-old is part of the Ezidi (Yazidi) community which is indigenous to parts of Iraq, Syria and Turkiye.
Between 2014 and 2017 they experienced what the United Nations (UN) described as genocide against them by ISIS.
More than 600 refugees now call Armidale home since residents and the council campaigned for it to become a resettlement location.
In 2017 he, his mother and some of his brothers were told by the UN they could live in Australia. The family finally felt certain they would be safe and free.
But resettling was a challenge.
"When we got Australia from the beginning, it was really hard, but after that, step by step, it's becoming easier and easier," he said.
There's much more to be desired from Settlement Services International (SSI), he said.
He said SSI needs to help people who don't understand English read their mail and pay their bills.
"That's really important in Australia, because whenever you're receiving a post or a mail, if you don't respond it then you will be paying more or pay tax," he said.
"There is no help."
Yamamah Agha, the general manager at SSI for Newcomers, Settlement and Integration, said they support refugees for up to five years after their arrival.
"(Armidale) has been one of the very successful settlement locations and experiences," she said.
At a recent conference in Geneva the Armidale program was highlighted, which she said has attracted interest from other countries wanting to learn from the success of resettlement here.
"One of the main things we do is ensure refugees are able to access services on their own."
There are two settlement programs, supporting refugees for 18 months and five years respectively.
She said one day a week was allocated to supporting refugees with any mail-related inquiries like the bill issue Mr Hakrsh mentioned.
Since 2019 Mr Hakrsh has been studying to become a pharmacist and works at Priceline.
With his ability to speak three languages - Kurdish, Arabic and English, he hopes he can help the diverse communities of his new home.
"Honestly, I just want to be a pharmacist in Armidale and help all communities here," he said.
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