They Rejected ISIS—Now They’re Suffering Alone In The Desert

Displaced kids do their best to deal with the heat as we deliver relief aid to their families. They are camped in the dessert, 3 miles from the front line with ISIS.

A short car ride to the west of Baghdad runs one of the most famous rivers in human history.

If the Euphrates could speak, what would it say? Whole civilizations rose and fell around it. Humanity leapt forward around these shores, pioneering incredible new ideas that changed the world. Wars were fought over the rich soil, and for thousands of years, the ability to control and cross this river has been the difference between life and death.

Crossing the Euphrates river to deliver relief aid, from Baghdad to Anbar, Iraq.

Displaced children play in the desert, despite the oppressive heat. They fled Ramadi, are doing their best to survive 3 miles from the front line with ISIS.

Today—right now—thousands of families who refused to live under ISIS rule are gathered along the shore, caught between ISIS militants and an unwelcoming Iraqi government. For many, their ability to cross—or for someone to cross over to them—is the difference between life and death. Food and starvation. Shelter and the desert.

Hope and despair.

Fallujah, Tikrit, Ramadi—every time a town falls to ISIS militants, families have to make a choice: stay, live under their rule, and hope for the best—or run for it?

A young, bright-eyed boy poses with a smile. His family are displaced, camped out in the Iraqi desert, and in need of aid.

The chokepoint for these people is a small bridge called Bzebez (buh-zay-bez). This is the entrance to no-man’s land, a vast desert, and the front-line fighting with ISIS. These are the people we are told to avoid. They are too much of a liability, in a region that is too dangerous, too close to the fighting, and they are too likely to hold ISIS sympathies—fighters may even live among them.

Let’s show up. Let’s love anyway.

Packing water tanks and groceries for displaced families living in the desert, 3 miles from the front line with ISIS.

Boys play amongst water tanks, just before they are distributed to displaced families down the road from the Bzebez bridge, Iraq.

Thanks to your support, we just delivered over 100 water tanks to families who were using a single bucket for all water-related needs. We delivered clothes and feminine hygiene products to woman who fled with only the clothes on their backs. And the list goes on: 35 food baskets, including chicken for people who hadn’t had meat in weeks, first aid kits, medication, soap, and a doctor who diagnosed a variety of illnesses that we can now treat on our next trip.

These families rejected ISIS and fled into the desert. It’s time for us to show them they’re not alone.

Get informed:

Thousands Flee as Shia Militias Mass Outside Ramadi

Ramadi’s Displaced Find Restrictions, not Refuge, in Baghdad

Restriction on Sunnis Fleeing Violence Deepen Iraq’s Sectarian Divide


About Matthew Willingham

Matt Willingham is Preemptive Love's Senior Field Editor and writes primarily on politics, history, general updates and visual peacemaking through photography and film.

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They Rejected ISIS—Now They’re Suffering Alone In The Desert
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