On the eleventh day, at dawn, his jailers commandeered him along with several of his cellmates. They were heading to a field near the city. “I told myself that’s it, it’s over. I began to pray for my family and my soul, “says Ahmed. He stands waiting for the final shot, but instead they broke his fingers of his right hand and ordered him to walk straight ahead without removing the blindfold. “Don’t look back,” shouted the men, starting the engine and moving off in the opposite direction.
Twelve kilometres separate Mosul from his village, Telkaif. At the end of 2014, this urban centre, historically inhabited by the Christian Assyrian majority, was occupied by the Islamic State. The churches were ransacked, the crucifixes smashed. A large part of the population fled, joining the growing number of internally displaced people in Iraq. Three years later, the IDP population exceeded 3 million. Those who remain are living in hell.
“Every day smells of fear, we smell death,” ,” says Hadiya, wearing her white hijab, fifty years old. She had three sons. They are all dead. A year ago, the eldest threw himself on a man who was going to set himself on fire in a crowded restaurant in Mosul. “My son died but he saved the lives of many people. He’s a hero,”she says proudly. The other two were police officers. When IS invaded their city, she hid them at home. “For two years they were locked up. Nobody knew where they were, nor their wives or their children”. At the end of 2016, when the international coalition led by the United States and Iraqi forces advanced in their offensive against ISIS, several men forced their way into their home and took them away.
We have been working with internally displaced people since ISIS took control of part of Iraq in 2014. More than 10 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, and ensuring the most vulnerable people have access to this remains a major challenge. The duration of displacements has exhausted the savings of households that now need help to access basic services. Our food security, water, sanitation and hygiene, as well as mental health programmes for those deeply affected by war and ISIS atrocities extend to camps and host communities.