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Iraq: Battle for Mosul causes massive destruction of everyday life

The fight for Mosul is long, and bitter; civilians now have no choice but to flee. City streets are not supposed to be a battlefield: family homes, neighbourhood shops, schools, and clinics are in the line for fire. Retaking Mosul has made normal life impossible. It was hard for Fathi Yassin to make the decision to leave with his family, but in the end survival became his only priority.

“It was impossible to stay anymore, there were car bombs, and shelling of the houses,” Fathi said. “The houses fell on top of people’s heads. As we were leaving we found a family dead in the street. When other people were leaving a drone was dropping bombs on them, it was hitting the civilians as they fled.”

Many families flee with nothing at all. The journey out of the city, once home to almost two million people, is terrifying for everyone. As Hosa Mushin explained, even if she and her family had had the luck to escape the bombing, the lack of food in Mosul meant they could not stay.

“Planes were shelling, bombs were exploding, we fled from death, said Hosa. “Many families fled, but we mostly fled because of the food, we thought we would die from hunger, there was nothing in our houses. Even before the shelling started, for three days there was nothing in the markets.”

Humanitarian agencies like the International Committee of the Red Cross are doing everything they can to support people fleeing. Camps have been set up away from the fighting, there has been a massive scale up of aid to prepare for a humanitarian crisis everyone knew was coming. But the violent disruption of life is very hard, especially for the young.

Khalid Jamal is just ten years old, and has already been through things no one, let alone a child, should have to experience.

“A mortar fell in our yard, but our poor neighbours, the mortar fell on their house and our neighbour and his son got hurt.”

The ICRC has provided food and emergency relief to 173,000 people including internally displaced people from Mosul, returnees, and host communities in the Nineveh governorate. But while food and safety are essential, they can never replace normal life. For the elderly especially, among them Ali Thanoun Ahmed, the yearning to regain his own life in his own home is strong.

“We just want to go back home, and return to our jobs and earn a living” said Ali. “We want to live with our families, work in our fields, we want to go back to the village.”

But no one knows when the return home can happen. While they wait, children adapt, finding ways to play even in such difficult conditions. But they also dream of a very different future.

“I want to go back, finish school, and become a doctor,” says Khalid Jamal. “My wish” he says again when asked. “I dream of becoming a doctor.”

Children like Khalid should be able to realize their dreams. Humanitarian support: food, medicine and shelter, will allow Khalid to carry on dreaming. But only an end to the fighting will give him the chance to make his dream come true.

 Download this footage from ICRC Video Newsroom

 www.icrcvideonewsroom.org

Sarah Alzawqari, Erbil, Iraq +964 790 191 6927
Iolanda Jaquemet, Geneva, +41 794 47 3726

Follow the ICRC on facebook.com/icrc and twitter.com/icrc

 

SHOTLIST

Location: Mosul and surrounding areas, Iraq
Length: 4’47’’
Format: HD H264 mp4
ICRC ref: AV614N
Camera: Ibrahim Sherkhan, André Lion
Date: March 2016
Copyright: ICRC access all

0:00 – 0:08 Artillery explosion, outskirts Mosul
0:08 – 0:16 Gunfire in streets, outskirts Mosul
0:16 – 0:23 Drone overhead, outskirts Mosul
0:23 – 0:31 Rubble and fire in streets, outskirts Mosul
0:31 -  0:56 Soundbite (Arabic) Fathi Yassin, Al-Haj Ali Camp. “It was impossible to stay anymore, there were car bombs, and shelling of the houses. The houses fell on top of people’s heads. As we were leaving we found a family dead in the street. When other people were leaving a drone was dropping bombs on them, it was hitting the civilians as they fled.”
0:56 – 1:02 Two men carry old woman through streets, outskirts Mosul
1:02 – 1:09 Man pushes woman in wheelchair, outskirts Mosul
1:09 – 1:25 Crowds fleeing through streets, man carrying another man, outskirts Mosul
1:25 – 1:37 WS line of people walking through desert
1:37 – 2:06 Soundbite Hosa Mushin (Arabic) Al-Haj Ali Camp “Planes were shelling, bombs were exploding, we fled from death. Many families fled, but we mostly fled because of the food, we thought we would die from hunger, there was nothing in our houses. Even before the shelling started, for three days there was nothing in the markets.
2:06 – 2:13 ICRC aid boxes, crowds in background, Salamiya village
2:13 – 2:20 Supplies unloaded from truck, Salamiya village
2:20 – 2:23 Crowd waiting for supplies
2:23 – 2:26 Crowds approaching through desert
2:26 – 2:45 Women and children stepping down from pick up truck
2:45 – 2:49 Children at camp
2:49 – 3:02 Soundbite (Arabic) Khalid Jamal, Salamiya village “A mortar fell in our yard, but our poor neighbours, the mortar fell on their house and our neighbour and his son got hurt.”
3:02 – 3:12 WS Al-Haj Ali camp
3:12 – 3:17 CU hands Al Haj Ali camp
3:17 – 3:21 Men waiting, Al Haj Ali camp
3:21 – 3:24 Man picks up aid parcel, Salamiya village
3:24 – 3:29 Old woman sitting on ground, Salamiya village
3:29 – 3:33 Woman with small boy and aid parcels, Salamiya village
3:33 – 4:00 Soundbite (Arabic) Ali Thanoun Ahmed, Salamiya village “We just want to go back home, and return to our jobs and earn a living. We want to live with our families, work in our fields, we want to go back to the village.”
3:55 – 3:59 Young girl, Salamiya village
3:59 – 4:05 MS children playing, Salamiya village
4:05 – 4:09 MWS children playing, Salamiya village
4:09 – 4:31 Soundbite (Arabic) Khalid Jamal, Salamiya village “I want to go back, finish school, and become a doctor. My wish?  I dream of becoming a doctor.”
4:31 – 4:44 Boy playing with tire on stick, Salamiya camp
4:44 – 4:48 Boy smiling at camera, Salamiya camp


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