A child looks over his mother's shoulder in Mosul, Iraq, as people arrive at a camp

©Tommy Trenchar/ Panos Pictures

“Planes were shelling, bombs were exploding: we fled from death.”

Stark words from a stark place: western Mosul in Iraq, where fighting has forced thousands of families out of their homes.

The Red Cross and Red Crescent are providing essential food, water and medical care to tens of thousands of people in camps and host communities.

This includes 30,000 hot meals and 40,000 pieces of fresh bread in one day.

But who are these people? What have they suffered? What do they want next?

“It was impossible to stay”

“There were car bombs, and shelling of the houses. The houses fell on top of people’s heads,” says Fathi Yassin, who now lives in one of the camps outside Mosul.

“As we were leaving, we found a family dead in the street.

“When other people were leaving, a drone was dropping bombs on them. It was hitting the civilians as they fled.”

There is little food left in Mosul
Hosa Mushin, a woman in Mosul, Iraq, wearing a black dress and headscarf that covers her mouth, looks at the viewer

© ICRC

“We mostly fled because of the food,” Hosa Mushin said.

“We thought we would die from hunger, there was nothing in our houses.

“Even before the shelling started, for three days there was nothing in the markets.”

Hosa and her family have now found food and safety in the Al-Haj camp, which is supported by the Red Cross and Red Crescent.

Like most who fled their homes in Mosul, they left with almost nothing.

The Red Cross and Red Crescent were prepared before the fighting in Mosul started, with enough stored supplies for over 800,000 people.

“We want to go back to our village”
Ali Thanoun Ahmed, a man in Mosul, Iraq, looks at the viewer

© ICRC

Some of the older people find leaving home especially difficult.

“We just want to go back home, and return to our jobs and earn a living,” says Ali Thanoun Ahmed, who comes from a village near Mosul.

“We want to live with our families, work in our fields. We want to go back to the village.”

Children still have to play
A boy in Mosul, Iraq, rolls a tire with a stick along dry ground

© ICRC

Since the battle of Mosul began, around 100,000 children have had to flee.

Many now live in camps. Some stay in crowded houses in the community.

But most still find a way to play, and to dream.

“Our poor neighbours”
Ten-year-old Khalid Jamal in Mosul, Iraq, looks out at the viewer with a concerned expression on his face

© ICRC

Ten-year-old Khalid Jamal has a big dream.

“A mortar fell in our yard, but our poor neighbours, the mortar fell on their house and the neighbour and his son got hurt.”

Nobody of any age should have to see such sights. But Khalid wants to make things better.

“I want to go back, finish school, and become a doctor,” he says.

“My wish: I dream of becoming a doctor.”

Maybe one day Khalid will achieve all this. But before then, the fighting must stop.

People must be able to return safely, start work again and rebuild their homes.

The Red Cross and Red Crescent will continue to support people in Mosul and across Iraq.

Will you join us by donating to the Iraq Crisis Appeal?