Fleeing The Violence: Internally Displaced People In Northern Iraq
Hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the ongoing violence are now living in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, many in areas heavily contaminated by dangerous explosive weapons.
Hear from some of those affected below...
All photos and reporting: Sean Sutton/MAG
Hamam (above) managed to escape the violence and is now being housed at a camp for internally displaced people (IDPs) in the northern Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Many IDPs travelled for days without food or water in 50 degree temperatures.
"They destroyed everything and they killed so many. We have lost everything we ever had. I have not seen or heard from my husband sine we left. We are all waiting now for death – because there is nothing to live for."
Nazo, Na'am and Layla (above) survived, but they constantly dwell on the fate of their relatives. They fled from their village and walked for two hours to reach Mount Sinjar. They hid on the mountain for several days in dreadful conditions. Eventually they made it to Syria, with help from Peshmerga troops, and eventually reached Dohuk a few days later.
Nazo (right) explains: "For days and days we fled. Many old people died from thirst and hunger. We don't know what has happened to our families. We are told that men and children were killed, and the girls kept to be slaves."
Ten-year-old Emir (above), who had earlier been playing with deadly explosive items, shows a leaflet he has been given at a MAG 'risk education' session. "I will never touch UXO [unexploded ordnance] again and if I see any I will tell my father to call MAG," he says.
The woman above is from one of 44 Yazidi families who fled from Sinjar and are currently living in a school in Dohuk city. The Kurdish region of northern Iraq is now hosting more than 800,000 displaced Iraqis, including Yazidi, Christian, Shabak, Kakai, Armenian and Turkmen minorities.
Thirteen-year-old Marwan (above right), with his father Mohammad and sister Nancy. He says: "One of my friend's sandals fell off the balcony so I went down to get it. I saw the bomb right there. I knew it was a dangerous bomb because MAG had been here and given us lessons. So I told my father, who called MAG.
"I come from Sinjar and we had a terrible time. There was a lot of shooting and we fled. We were terrified. We came here through Syria. Many died on the journey."
Sixty-four-year-old Rasho (above) fled from Till Izer, near Sinjar, with thousands of other Yazidis when it was attacked. His nephew was killed.
What is MAG doing?
► MAG's Community Liaison teams are working with internally displaced people (IDPs) to make them aware of the dangers from landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) – such as mortars, grenades and projectiles – both during their time in the Kurdistan region and also for when they return home. 'Risk education' lessons explain to people how they can minimise the threat for themselves and their families.
► MAG's new mobile technical teams in Iraq have been trained to respond to the crisis, including the clearance of areas contaminated by landmines and UXO during recent and current fighting, so that people can go home safely. They have also made land safe for IDP and Syrian refugee camps to be built.
MAG's work in Iraq is being carried out thanks to the support of the Dutch Government's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the US State Department's Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (WRA).
Page published: 20 October 2014