Hope During Displacement
As Iraqis flee conflict, their everyday needs go with them
In 2017, more than 64,950 individuals have been displaced by military operations in west Anbar. Of these, more than 19,000 have been displaced from 20 September through 31 October, following the intensification of the Iraqi Forces’ offensive against ISIL in the west Anbar districts of Ana, Al Ka’im and Ru’a on 19 September.
Staff from IOM, the UN Migration Agency, spoke with a newly displaced woman, Zahraa, who was receiving medical assistance from an IOM mobile medical team:
“We had a good life in west Anbar. We owned a house and farm in Al-Qaim district where we grew crops. After ISIL entered the city, the situation quickly deteriorated. We were regularly harassed and had to stop planting our crops. When our savings ran out we survived only on our remaining crops. We sold everything we owned to cover the family’s basic needs –my husband, our three sons and our three grandchildren.
“One day a bomb fell close to my grandchildren while they were playing. Two of them, aged 8 and 9, were killed and the third one was injured. Our house was damaged. We decided to leave Al-Qaim and displace.
“We paid smugglers; they drove us out of the area at night until we reached the Iraqi Forces. We first went to the checkpoint, then to Kilo 18 camp in Ramadi and then moved to Ameriyat Fallujah Camp.
“I had severe psychological and health conditions, especially after losing my two grandchildren. I attended the IOM medical clinic and received advice from specialist doctors. I was treated for irritable bowel syndrome. My family and I normally visit the clinic around twice per week. We have access to the necessary medical care and medicine.
“Displacement is difficult, and my family has been deeply affected by the situation. We hope to return to Al-Qaim to go about our normal lives, to rehabilitate our damaged house and return to planting and harvesting,” said Zahraa, who displaced from Al-Qaim in September 2017.
IOM Iraq Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) has been monitoring the west Anbar crisis since January 2017, when significant displacement movements were already taking place due to hostilities in the area and in anticipation of major military operations.
This testimony was collected by Sandra Black at IOM Iraq and edited by Jorge Galindo at IOM HQ in Geneva.