(SOURCE ICRC) – Hundreds of thousands of people have fled the recent fighting in Ninawa Province, including Sinjar and other areas close to the cities of Mosul, Dohuk and Kirkuk in northern Iraq.
Some of them are from religious minorities such as the Yazidis, who sought refuge in Sinjar Mountain after fleeing their homes.
But Christians, Shia and Sunni communities, uprooted in the fighting are also flooding into the cities of Dohuk and Khaniq in the search of shelter. Many have had to camp in schools, public places, and even in half built buildings .
“We remained eight days on the mountain. We had nothing to eat. We left and they attacked us with bullets” says a young man from Sinjar, whose family is sheltering in an highway underpass.
The family tried twice to leave and eventually got to the Syrian border before making their way to Dohuk.
Abd-al-Ahad , a local businessman is providing shelter to more than 300 people free of charge. He turned one of his businesses into a shelter and is hosting others in the basement of another building.
“We are helping them until they can go back to their homes.”
Most of the Yazidis who were trapped on Sinjar Mountain are heading for the town of KhaniqWith an estimated population of 60,000 Khaniq has received some 15,000 families (90,000 individuals) from Sinjar and nearby villages
This farmer, Khayri, spent nine days on the mountain with his family.
“Hundreds of children died on the mountain. The planes dropped food aid but three quarters of the people did not see it”.
A testimony echoed by many of the displaced. Hamad from Sinjar says his mother died on the mountain.
The ICRC is distributing food and other essential items to the displaced in Khaniq as well as in Hawija and Rania in the provinces of Kiruku, Dohuk and Sulamaniyah. The Iraqi Red Crescent is distributing assistance in other provinces.
But the needs are immense as the humanitarian crisis continues.