A visibly distressed woman expresses her feelings of complete and utter helplessness and anger towards the unfolding events in western Mosul, where Iraqi forces are battling ISIS hoping to regain the last major ISIS stronghold in the country. She says in hysteria “I will not stay in Iraq any longer. I will cut my identity and nationality.”
Her views and feelings express a common sense of despair that is prevalent among the citizens in the war torn city. An older Iraqi father is also recorded saying “yesterday, at 3 o’clock we left, I have 10 children, no tea, no food, no water. We left and they [ISIS] demolished our homes. Leaving was the best option”.
For those lucky enough to escape with their lives out of the clutches of ISIS, a UNHCR refugee camp is what they call home. Although better than the conditions they were facing under ISIS, often times these camps are crowded, and lack essential aid such as water and medical supplies. According to Bruno Geddo, the Representative of UNHCR in Iraq “The displacement crisis in Mosul is likely to become more acute in the near term”. This will mean a further strain on the resources and safety of Iraqi citizens.
The situation for the citizens of western Mosul becomes even more stressful when considering families do not always escape at the same time, forcing many to wait behind for husbands, wives and children. When reunited there is a chance they will end up in different camps. Men and women often times get on separate buses and are transported to different hospitals. This strain on resources is not only been felt by the refugees but aid workers are also left to allocate increasingly limited resources to increasingly desperate and injured individuals.
It is important to note that although the Iraqi government is making gains and continue to push ISIS back, in doing so regaining territory and liberating once trapped civilians who are being used as human shields, there is still a lot of work to do when citizens of western Mosul finally resettle into their homes. Using lessons from the reconstruction efforts in Eastern Mosul, the government along with aid agencies will hopefully be able to provide critical infrastructure and resources more efficiently for the people.