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Iraq: rapid displacement of thousands, now headed for a region that’s already overstretched


Thousands are fleeing the violence in Mosul (Emrah Yorulmaz/PA Photos)

One of the largest, swiftest displacements  of people in recent memory is unfolding right before our eyes.

The shocking escalation of violence in Iraq is forcing hundreds of thousands of people to flee for their lives towards the Kurdistan region of Iraq. So far, around 500,000 have fled Mosul – that’s a quarter of the city’s population.

Gridlock, blocks and terror

There’s gridlock on the roads as terrified families flee violence in the city of Mosul.  Eyewitnesses report massive traffic jams and blocked roads delaying families who have crammed into cars in their desperation to escape the raging violence that has engulfed their city.

A matter of minutes

Not all managed to find cars in which to get away: they left by whatever means necessary – many on foot. Most had only minutes to escape as the situation descended swiftly into chaos. The situation at checkpoints and on the roads is one of pandemonium, with some of the most vulnerable people – children, the elderly – spending days in stifling heat, cut off from food and water.

Yet these, who have escaped, are the ‘lucky ones’.

What about those left behind?

It’s difficult to get aid to people on the move, but the children and families who have stayed in Mosul are even harder to reach, given the continuing violence.

How can the Kurdistan region of Iraq cope?

The situation in this area of Iraq is already very precarious: there are more than 220,000 Syrian refugees and Iraqi families displaced by the clashes in Anbar earlier this year. Now thousands more displaced people are flowing into the region.

What is next for these children and their families?

Many children will have seen terrible things. We know that the best way for children to recover from trauma is returning to a routine as quickly as possible. But who can say when that will be possible.

Save the Children is working around the clock with refugees and displaced people in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, distributing water, food and hygiene kits and providing child-protection services to exhausted families fleeing their homes in Mosul.

There are thousands in need of support – but in order to give them the help they need, the international community needs to step up its financial support immediately. Only if this happens will the region be able to cope with this unprecedented influx.


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