Escaping ISIS, Finding Relief
Samaritan’s Purse is providing relief to thousands among what may become a mighty flood of people escaping from Mosul into northern Iraq. The complex military offensive to retake Mosul—Iraq's second largest city—from ISIS control began October 17 and continues with a diverse coalition of around 100,000 troops pitted against several thousand ISIS militants.
Samaritan's Purse has a disaster response team on the ground in northern Iraq joining our national staff as they provide physical and spiritual relief in Jesus' Name. We are working in multiple evacuee camps and have already begun monthly food distributions—a supply of salt, sugar, cooking oil, chickpeas, rice, flour, and beans—to tens of thousands of people.
Nearly 80,000 people have been displaced by the Mosul offensive thus far and are in need of immediate assistance. We have also started to distribute water, blankets, tarpaulin, hygiene kits, cooking kits, and shoes to displaced families, as well as returnees to towns now clear of ISIS. On November 13, we distributed 5,000 ready-to-eat food packages, plus water and hygiene items, to households in the combat zone on the eastern edge of Mosul. As of December 2, we deployed a mobile medical team to serve alongside these efforts, treating those who have been without medical care since terrorists took over the area.
Desperate after two years of cruel occupation, men, women, and children are fleeing Mosul despite lethal risks: ISIS snipers have gunned down some who try to escape, plus there are booby traps and other hazards.
Ray Helm, logistics officer for Samaritan's Purse in northern Iraq, told CNN that new arrivals to Khazer camp were reporting that their neighbors, friends, and relatives came out of their houses carrying their white flags. ISIS let them walk until they neared approaching Iraqi soldiers and then mowed them down.
"It will take much more than food and shelter to help those people heal," Helm told CNN.
The Iraqi military has now entered the eastern edge Mosul for the first time since 2014. Intense, street-to-street fighting to topple the terrorist organization from their last in-country stronghold could last weeks or longer. As many as 1 million people might be displaced in the process of liberating Mosul and dozens of surrounding towns and villages.
“This is going to be a very large-scale catastrophe,” said Matthew Nowery, who directs our work in Iraq. “A huge number of people will be moving into a system that’s already stretched.”
Since ISIS captured Mosul with terrifying speed in June 2014, Samaritan’s Purse has been bringing relief to Iraqis displaced by violence and terror.
In our immediate response, we provided food and tents to the Christian community who fled their homes due to convert-or-die threats. When Yazidis were forced out of Sinjar, we brought clothing, blankets, and other relief items to those who had fled for their lives.
Today, we continue to provide water and sanitation services as well as medical care to Iraq’s displaced population. Our efforts also serve entire families with informal schools and playgrounds for the youngest victims of terror and training in livelihoods for the adults.
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