As conventional military forces continue to liberate towns and cities from ISIS on several fronts in Iraq, many thousands of families are being displaced from their homes.
Located in the north of the country, Iraq’s Yazidi population are an ethnically Kurdish people with their own distinct religion and culture. They have suffered terribly since ISIS began seizing towns, cities and large tracts of populated land in Northern Iraq in 2014.
Often, when ISIS captures a Yazidi town or village, they execute all the men and “take possession” of the women and children.
At least 500,000 Yazidis have been driven from their homes by ISIS, and many thousands killed and kidnapped. A recent report estimates that at least 2,700 Yazidi children have lost one or both parents to ISIS since 2014.
It is survivors of this purge – who have fled for their safety - that GOAL will be supporting as part of a two-year programme. We will be providing business development training, vocational training, or practical work experience to enable them to start a new business or find employment in the agricultural sector.
Further south, coalition forces are continuing their offensive to liberate the ISIS-held city of Mosul. In the Salahuddin area, where GOAL is operating, large numbers of women, children and elderly citizens are having to travel long distances in extreme temperatures to escape the fighting and reach relative safety. Some, lacking any form of transportation, have been stranded, struggling to survive, in desert areas.
"The government and its agencies are doing all they can, but they have been swamped by the sheer numbers of displaced people."
Veronica Panero of GOAL described the situation: “The people arriving here have walked for many hours to escape the battles that are raging in their home areas. This being an unusually hot summer, even for Iraq, with temperatures often reaching the mid-forties, they are in a severe state of dehydration. They are often malnourished as well.
“The government and its agencies are doing all they can, but they have been swamped by the sheer numbers of displaced people.
“What these people have already been through hardly bears thinking about. It is heart-breaking. Most have lost family members. Women and girls have been victims of rape, and the young boys subjected to constant beatings and attempts at indoctrination. Now they are fleeing for their lives, without water or food. ”
GOAL, in tandem with a partner organisation, is delivering water and providing sanitary units for displaced families at Hajaj Silo and in Tikrit City (both situated along the Mosul corridor in Salahuddin Governorate).
The families are screened to ascertain their health status and most urgent needs, and thereafter moved to a place of greater safety. GOAL has installed sanitary units for the families, and throughout their stay we are providing them with water.
By July 18, Hajaj Silo alone had received at least 1,685 displaced families.
Niall O'Ceallachain (Emergency Response)