In Iraq, three girls sit on the ground in Khazer camp with Red Cross and Red Crescent food parcels

© IFRC/Safin Ahmed

These children should be at school. Instead, they spend their days behind a wire fence.

Since October, over 200,000 people have fled fighting in Mosul, Iraq.

As of February, over 152,000 people still can’t go home.

That’s almost as many people as live in Brighton in the UK.

It’s even more shocking that around half of those people are children.

The conflict destroyed their homes, devastating whole neighbourhoods.

Many families have taken refuge in Khazer camp, about 50 miles from Mosul.

Life here is busy and cramped. Since the battle for Mosul started, the camp’s population has swelled to more than 30,000 people.

Zenaba, another man and woman, and three children sit on the ground surrounded by relief supplies

© IRCS/Safin Ahmed

“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. They crossed battle lines before being bussed to the camp.

A man walks through Khazer camp in Iraq holding a baby's cradle over his shoulder

©IRCS/Safin Ahmed

Some familes were able to bring a few possessions from home, like this cradle. But many arrived with nothing.

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.

A hand holds a freshly baked square loaf of bread


“The Red Crescent plays a huge role in Khazer and other camps around Mosul,” said Luis Sfeir-Younis from the British Red Cross.

“For example, they bake and distribute around 32,000 pieces of fresh bread every day.”

A young girls sits on the ground surrounded by boxes of Red Cross and Red Crescent emergency supplies

© IFRC/Joe Cropp

“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.

At a table with medical supplies inside a tent, a doctor holds a stethoscope to a young boy's chest as another boy and a woman look on

©IRCS/Safin Ahmed

Many families need medical attention. 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 is treating up to 700 people a day.

Two boys play with colourful plastic skittles on very dry ground as Iraqi Red Crescent volunteer Mahdia Masa crouches next to them and a male volunteer leans towards them

© IFRC/Joe Cropp

As well as receiving help for physical ailments, camp residents, and especially children, often need psychological and emotional support.

Twenty specially trained psychological and emotional support volunteers visit Khazer and the other camps regularly.

Many youngsters have not been to school for two years due to the conflict.

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.

A father and mother sit in front of a car in Iraq while the father helps a young child drink water from a bottle

© ICRC/Anmar Qusay

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.

A woman with a scarf covering the lower part of her face sits alone on the ground holding a young boy to her chest


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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