What It's Like to Flee ISIS

"We were running with other families. And I saw some of them get shot by ISIS snipers. But we kept running. If we stopped to help them—we would be easy targets. We ran for our lives."

The families who fled Fallujah before ISIS withdrew from the heart of the city often made their attempts at night. The hope was to make it harder for ISIS snipers to pick them off as they ran across dusty fields, or crawled through marshes.

Of course, running at night also made it impossible to see the land mines ISIS planted in fields and along roads everywhere they maintained control. Running at night didn’t stop ISIS fighters from chasing families down on motorcycles or in armoured vehicles. Or shooting at small boat ferrying families across the Euphrates River.

Escaping in the night isn’t easy... or safe.

What does it look like when people flee ISIS? It often looks like the local news reel below. Injured, bloodied bodies finally arriving somewhere safe. Be advised, the video is graphic in places. Although it’s in Arabic, the images speak loudly enough.

Don’t watch if you’re not up for it, but the video shares a difficult part of the story many have yet to hear.

“We were running with other families,” said one elderly man we met at a displacement camp south of Fallujah. “And I saw some of them get shot by ISIS snipers. But we kept running. If we stopped to help them—we would be easy targets. We ran for our lives.” 

Exhausted and traumatized—not just from the night journey but all the hungry months that led up to it—he wanted you to know his story. He wanted you to know what he’d just been through.

We cannot erase the harrowing ordeal he experienced. But there is one small thing we could do to ease his anxiety: we gave him a month’s worth of food, with your help. Each family who made it through the night received a month’s supply of food that day.

His life is still full of uncertainty—but tonight, and tomorrow night, and the weeks after that, he doesn’t have to worry about starving.

You made that possible.

Image: YouTube

 

About Erin Wilson

Communications Officer for Preemptive Love Coalition, based in Iraq. Photographer + artist, storyteller + story gatherer, peace maker + bridge builder, student + teacher, unrepentant lover of unexpected beauty.

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What It's Like to Flee ISIS
What It's Like to Flee ISIS
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