Mosul civilians speak of hunger, thirst and horror down road to camps

Road of woes for Mosul residents
Road of woes for Mosul residents

Mostapha Hassan

The anti-ISIS fighting is taking a heavy toll on civilians in Mosul, with dozens either killed, injured or displaced.

Those displaced live through unspeakable conditions from the moment they are deemed to leave their lodgings due to the hellish war in the city.

They walk a daunting road to the camps dedicated to the displaced persons in the city. There are two camps: Hamam al-Alil and another one set up recently by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and located 60 KM west of Mosul.

Some of them go to the camp on foot. And others squash themselves in overcrowded buses and trucks.

Big exodus 

Tallies suggest over half a million civilians have fled Mosul since the start of the months-long anti-ISIS military drive.

A Middle East Online report cited Norwegian Refugee Council as saying the latest offensive waged by the Iraqi forces inside Mosul led to the biggest wave of exodus of civilians since the turn of the year.



More than 20,000 civilians arrived at Hamam al-Alil camp, fleeing the western parts of Mosul, the council said.
Some refugees express their relief after reaching the camp.

If feel safe here. It never came to my mind that I will get out of the city alive, Shams Hassan, a woman in her 40s, who fled the city along with 16 of his family members, said.

I have moved to many homes and districts so that I could not even remember them, the woman, who once resided at al-Farouq neighborhood, recounted.

Speaking of ISIS atrocities which prompted her and her family to flee, Hassan said  the terrorists used them as human shields and forced us to change our lodgings more than once.

Suddenly, we find ourselves caught in crossfire between the heavy shelling, mortars and booby-trapped cars, the displaced civilian recalled, adding' a house where we lived for a long time was hit by a mortar shell, and I was supposed to endure all these woes'.

Eating grass

Walking down the road to the camp, the Mosul civilians experience a lot of woes.

Hassan also said: "Our children did not take showers two months ago. And their heads are filled with lice."

She explained that they  left the neighborhood where they were living after the arrival of the Iraqi forces which secured a safe corridor for us to use.


 
According to her, the iraqi forces helped the civilians in the neighborhood get out through 'holes dug in the walls separating houses'.

We trode upon broken glass, and we were forced to grope our way through rubble, she further notes.

Yet, another displaced named 'Ahmed Younis Dawod, 72, have endangered his life more than once to leave the right bank of Mosul.

This man crawled through underground water pipelines and got out of the city.

For over five days, I have been up at night to monitor streets where I should have escaped, he recalled.


He arrived at Hamam al-Alil camp at dawn last Sunday. He praised safety, but complained of shortage of services.

People who arrive here get no tents, food, water or blankets, the old man explained.

International organizations provide aid to thousands of civilians inside the camps every day. But lack of funding during the peak period of displacement and high temperatures have left many uncovered by the relief network.
 

As he sat down weeping, the disenfranchised man said: We escaped death in Mosul, but we found it here. Hell there is better for us. We will die by missiles, but we will die together.

We ate grass like cows. But we were sheltered at our homes, the man spoke with grief.

Horror and shock

ISIS terrorists were keen to show the residents of Mosul the most ignominious and disgusting forms of intimidation to bar them from fleeing.

As civilians, we were used as human shields, a Mosul resident says, asserting those terrorists used all means  for intimidating the people under their ruthless rule.

Those who dared to flee, were executed on the streets, and had their bodies hung onto lampposts.
Those terrorists stole our food and clothes, the resident added.


She also mentioned that prices of the foodstuff in the area started to shoot up.

One should now pay 50,000 Iraqi dinars, $40, to be able to buy a bottle of food oil, the tormented civilian indicated.

With thousands of displaced persons stranded inside and outside camps, experts say the matter should be properly handled for those people to feel the difference between their lives under ISIS and outside their hellish enclaves.

Voices of those experienced woes under ISIS should be held, the experts added. Woes should be buried with ISIS, and they should not be seen at the camps of those people.
 
  


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