Where would you go if fighting destroyed your home and devastated your neighbourhood?
Would you be able to leave? Where would you sleep? And how would you keep your children safe?
Since the start of 2017, over 10,000 people have fled conflict in the city of Mosul in Iraq.
That’s up to 2,000 people daily. Many of them are women and children.
The Red Cross and our partners the Iraqi Red Crescent are providing essential support to children and their parents at Khazer and other nearby camps.
This includes hot meals, food parcels, drinking water and medical care. This lifeline for families will continue until they can return home or find another more permanent place to live.
Some, like this family, were able to bring a few possessions from home. Others have arrived with almost nothing.
“We are so lucky we are now in a safe place,” Zenaba said after reaching Khazer camp.
Zenaba and her family escaped Mosul with only the clothes they were wearing, crossing battle lines before being bussed to the camp.
“The Red Crescent plays a huge role in Khazer and other camps around Mosul,” said Luis Sfeir-Younis, Iraq country manager at the British Red Cross.
“For example, they bake and distribute around 32,000 pieces of freshly baked bread every day.”
“Red Cross and Red Crescent teams have also installed a water station to provide clean water to over 40,000 people on a daily basis.
“When they arrive, families are greeted with fresh water, hot meals and food parcels, with thousands getting the nutritious food they need.
“Our hygiene kits provide basic items like toothbrushes and soap, giving some semblance of a normal life to people who fled with nothing,” added Luis.
Many families need medical attention as medical staff and drugs were in short supply in Mosul even before the fighting began.
The cold winter weather – temperatures can drop to near freezing at night – has resulted in illnesses, particularly among children. The Red Crescent medical team in Khazer has reported treating up to 700 people a day.
As well as receiving help for physical ailments, camp residents, and especially children, often need psychological and emotional support.
Many youngsters have not been to school for two years due to the conflict.
Twenty specially trained psychological and emotional support volunteers visit Khazer and the other camps regularly.
The Red Crescent volunteers use fun and games to help children deal with their situation.
“These people have been through dreadful experiences, they need as much support as we can give,” said volunteer Mahdia Masa.
Families fleeing Mosul are joining around three million people in Iraq who have had to leave their homes because of fighting.
Many live in communities – with host families, in abandoned buildings, in rented rooms or tents – rather than camps.
“The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has gone out to look for what the needs are in some of the villages,” said Domink Stillhart, ICRC director of operations.
“Assistance is provided both to people who are displaced and also the residents who are hosting a lot of these displaced people.”
Since the start of the Mosul operation in October, the ICRC has provided food and essential household items to over 10,000 families, some 60,000 people.
One family now getting help from the Red Cross shared their story of escape from Mosul.
“We suffered all night,” the father said.
“We slept on the frontline … on the ground.
“We have a 40-day-old child, she doesn’t have milk and we carried her all the way. She was crying the whole night.”
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