You’re viewing a version of this story optimized for slow connections. To see the full story click here.

Feeding families out of Mosul

Food provides a lifeline to people fleeing city

Story by World Food Programme March 22nd, 2017

Story by Inger Marie Vennize

Thousands of people have fled western Mosul in Iraq amidst a military offensive to retake the city from ISIL. The World Food Programme (WFP) has provided life-saving, ready-to-eat food to over 325,000 displaced people at screening centres or camps.

A box of ready-to-eat food contains canned meat, chick peas, dried fruit and biscuits, enough for a family of five for three days.

A young boy helps his mother carry their few belongings and food assistance to a bus at Scorpion Junction. Photo: WFP/Inger Marie Vennize

The vast majority of families left their homes with very little possessions. They had to cross the frontline, risking their lives as they fled for safety.

Some people said they slept for a few hours in abandoned houses before continuing to walk.

The Iraqi authorities provide bus transport from military checkpoints near the frontline to gathering points at Tel Kaysum, Shaikh Younis, Scorpion Junction and Albu Seif.

A father carries his daughter through a parking lot at Scorpion Junction. Photo: WFP/Laven Shangula
A couple at Scorpion Junction, heading for a bus to take them to a screening centre at Hamman al-Alil. Photo: WFP/Inger Marie Vennize

Food inside western Mosul has become very scarce as supply lines have been cut by fighting. Some people told WFP that their last food stock was confiscated by ISIL fighters. Some families have not been eating properly for weeks.

WFP gives each family a ready-to-eat box of food at the gathering points, that will last them a few days until they are settled in a tent and start receiving monthly food rations.

Some of the local NGOs are giving families a cup of strong, sweet tea at the gathering points. Others give them bread, biscuits and hard-boiled eggs to survive on until they reach camps.

People fleeing Mosul, pictured at Scorpion Junction gathering point with food and other assistance. Photo: WFP/Inger Marie Vennize
People collect relief items at Scorpion Junction gathering point. Photo: WFP/Inger Marie Vennize
Food assistance provides a vital lifeline for families such as these at Hammam al-Alil screening centre. Photo: WFP/Inger Marie Vennize

The new Hamman al-Alil camp next to the screening centre filled up in only four days, and is now temporarily home to over 22,000 people.

Other people are taken to camps in Qayyarah, Hassan Sham and other places with available tents.

A woman and granddaughter at Hamman al-Alil. The woman said there were no other remaining family members. Photo: Inger Marie Vennize

Once families are settled in camps with access to cooking facilities, WFP provides monthly food rations of staples such as wheat flour, rice, chick peas, lentils sugar, salt and oil, covering the food needs of a family of five for one month.

As of 22 March, almost 90,000 people had been assisted with these rations, containing staples such as wheat flour, rice, beans, lentils, sugar, salt and oil.

A woman at Hammam al-Alil screening centre. Photo: WFP/Inger Marie Vennize

Since the start of the initial Mosul offensive in October 2016, WFP has provided ready-to-eat food for more than 1.3 million people from Mosul and the Mosul corridor. This includes families in camps and those remaining in their homes.