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Exodus from Mosul

Families Seek Safety in Northern Iraq

Story by World Food Programme August 9th, 2016

Story and photos by Muhammad Albahbahani & Phyza Jameel

Debaga camp in Erbil governorate in northern Iraq was built to host a small number of people. Yet the camp, which has seen a few waves of displacement since it was created in 2014, is now faced with a massive exodus from Mosul.

Worsening conflict has forced a huge number of people out of their homes in the city and surrounding areas, and families continue to arrive from other insecure areas such as Kirkuk and Salah al-Din governorates.

Photo: WFP/Mohammed Albahbahani

WFP provides mothers and children arriving in the camp with emergency rations that cover their needs for three days. Dinar*, 12, (below, right) travelled from a village near Mosul with her parents and four siblings – describing it as a “tough journey”.

“We ran from our village after we heard massive gunshots. The weather is really hot and we had no water. Now we‘re receiving food and water here. I am not sure how many days we spent here so far, we’ve lost count.”

Photo: WFP/Phyza Jameel

Debaga camp, which received 3,000 people in just one day, is now overstretched with some people not finding tents to live in.

Zainab* from Ninewa Governorate, which includes Mosul, has been staying in Debaga school with her two daughters for the past ten days.

Photo: WFP/Phyza Jameel

WFP is preparing to increase assistance to those families left behind, with plans to reach 400,000 Iraqis in an area known as the Mosul corridor, and 1.1 million people in the city itself.

Nadira*, an 8-year-old girl from Salahaddin Governorate in northern-central Iraq now lives in Debaga camp with her 5 siblings and mother.

Photo: WFP/Phyza Jameel

As many women at the camp wait for a family reunion with the male members of their families, they continue to use common kitchens established outside the larger tents.

Up to 70 women and children live in the tents, unsure of when they will be able to return home, and what they might find when they do.

Photo: WFP/Phyza Jameel


For more on the Iraq emergency and the World Food Programme’s response, visit the emergency page here.

*Names of those photographed have been changed