"Number of Iraqi orphans, widows rising with conflict"

Orphans in Sadr City share a pair of headphones

Pictured: Orphan boys sharing a pair of headphones in a safe house in Baghdad's Sadr City, Feb. 11, 2009. (photo by REUTERS/May Naji)

By Omar al-Jaffal for Al-Monitor.com

Naima Ibrahim, 36, lost her husband during the government's bombing of Fallujah in May. She had intended to flee the city with her husband and children after the city fell to militants belonging to the Islamic State (IS) and some tribal groups, but her husband died in the shelling while out buying food. His death forced her to remain in Fallujah. She and her children now live on the money provided by her brothers and neighbors in addition to aid from humanitarian organizations in Anbar province.

Recent military operations in Iraq against the Islamic State have led to a spike in the number of orphans and widows.

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A photo of Hatem and his father, Yasser

This is Yasser with his son, Hatem, and they were there when ISIS first attacked.

Yasser and other residents of his town did their best to resist, but the militants were too strong.

“We did well for a week, and they couldn’t pass our line. But they had better weapons and more experience. We were outmatched.”

Yasser and his family are Turkmen, a minority in Iraq. As if that didn’t put enough of a target on their backs, they are also Shia, perhaps the most brutalized religious minority in Northern Iraq.

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A student poses at a school in Iraq

By Khales Joumah for Niqash.org

Inside the extremist-occupied city of Mosul, teachers have been told to report to work and teach an extremist-formulated curriculum - or face the consequences. Meanwhile the Ministry of Education in Baghdad, which still pays their salaries, says if they show up to work, they may be fired.

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Kurdish peshmerga line up to vote

By Nawzat Shamdeen for Niqash.org

What will happen to Iraq’s “disputed territories” once Sunni Muslim extremists have been driven out? Will the Iraqi Kurdish military, who now control some of it, insist on staying? Or will conflicts between the Iraqi Kurdish and the Iraqi army make for the country’s next crisis? NIQASH gathers opinions. 

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The headlines coming out of the Middle East can be overwhelming.

We know, and we live there.

To continue to press in and hope, we start by looking around us and witnessing the work of our partners across the country.

Take our dear friends at Living Light International for example.

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