Saving Lives in the Shadow of ISIS: Food for 200 Families on the Front Lines

This small town in northern Iraq sits on the very front lines of the fight against ISIS. Not near the front lines. On them.

THIS is where you brought lifesaving food for 200 families yesterday.

ISIS captured Qayyarah in June 2014. Around the same time, they also seized Mosul—Iraq’s second largest city, 40 miles north of here.

Qayyarah has been under siege ever since. It’s considered a strategic location, given its proximity to Mosul and its reputation as an oil town. As Iraqi forces seek to push ISIS out of Mosul, their last major stronghold, Qayyarah sits squarely in the crosshairs.

Sign that reads, "Qayyarah is the key to Mosul"

Just two weeks ago, Iraqi forces finally liberated Qayyarah, with the help of local tribes. From the town, you can see the oil fires lit by ISIS as they retreated.

Oil fires lit by ISIS outside Qayyarah

But ISIS remains within easy striking distance. The day before we arrived, they shelled Qayyarah three times, killing two and injuring four.

This is no one’s idea of a safe place.

But our team insisted on going, despite the danger, despite the fact that it meant 10 hours on the road each way—because they knew there were hundreds of families living without food.

For our team to get to Qayyarah, we had to travel one of the most dangerous roads in Iraq, hugging the edge of ISIS-held territory. Militants have used car bombs to attack police checkpoints along the road to Qayyarah.

Our team knows the risk. One of our colleagues on this mission narrowly escaped being killed in an airstrike while delivering aid near Fallujah this summer. Yet he chose to go where others won’t—again.

Because he knew there were still hundreds of families living without food.

The journey took 10 hours. The team finally reached Qayyarah near dark and chose to stay overnight. Today, hundreds of families have lifesaving food—because you helped us go to the front lines.

We were among the first to respond to the needs here in Qayyarah. We’re continuing to work with UN and Iraqi officials in order to reach places others can’t reach—or won’t because they’re too dangerous.

This is only possible because of you. Because you’re the kind of people who go where others won’t go, who look fear in the face and love anyway. 

Earlier today, one of the local leaders in Qayyarah told us about two more villages nearby—also on the front lines, also in need of food.

As the battle moves closer to Mosul, we'll keep moving closer too. We'll keep showing up for those for the families who flee, for those on the front lines, and for all whose lives are unmade by violence. Go with us.  

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About Ben Irwin

Husband, father, storyteller, children's book author, occasional marathon runner, and director of communications and PR for Preemptive Love Coalition

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Saving Lives in the Shadow of ISIS: Food for 200 Families on the Front Lines
Saving Lives in the Shadow of ISIS: Food for 200 Families on the Front Lines
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