Deeya could hear the neighbourhood kids pass by her house on their way to school every morning. She could hear their voices through the closed windows and discussions about homework from the night before. In the afternoons, she could hear their shouts as they made their way back home–bits of gossip from the day and plans being made to play.
The truck was conspicuous when it rolled into a Kirkuk neighbourhood—already tall, it was piled even higher with colourful sleeping mats. Heaters, blankets, food, and rugs were stacked inside for families displaced by the war with ISIS. Once parked, a crowd gathered. For the kids, the delivery meant a little excitement. For their parents, the delivery meant a lot of relief.
This week the truck rolled into Kirkuk, but on a different day it might have been a neighbourhood in Baghdad, Anbar, or Diyala. If those cities sound familiar, it’s because they’ve been in the news. They are the cities where much of the violence in Iraq is centred. They are the same cities where our partners at Iraqi Health Aid Organization choose to serve.
Fifteen-year-old F says her family of nine was trying to escape, speeding up mountain switchbacks, when their aging Opel overheated. She, her mother, and her sisters — 14, 7, and 4 years old — were helplessly standing by their stalled car when a convoy of heavily armed Islamic State fighters encircled them.
“Right away, the fighters separated the men from the women,” she said. She, her mother and sisters were first taken in trucks to the nearest town on Mount Sinjar. “There, they separated me from my mom. The young, unmarried girls were forced to get into buses.” -Rukmini Calamachi for The New York Times