Iraq: families and children cross the river to safety
Every week, hundreds of people, many of them children, make their way by boat across the Tigris river from the IS-controlled areas to the town of Al-Sherqat. They take refuge in the two newly established reception centres of Terre des hommes (Tdh). Our teams are the first to offer the exhausted children and families emergency assistance and safety.
Families who flee the IS-controlled territories gather every day on the eastern bank of the river to cross to the government-controlled Al-Sherqat, which is around 100 km south of Mosul. These families have lost everything. The IS-occupation had deprived them of their freedom and separated them from their beloved ones. Escaping this unbearable situation, families have spent several days walking and sleeping on cold nights. Children finally arrive hungry, dehydrated and both physically and mentally exhausted in Al-Sherqat.
We are the first international organisation to provide them with emergency aid on the safe side of the river. “As no humanitarian aid is possible on the other side of the river, we act quickly and provide them with basic help such as drinking water as soon as they have crossed”, explains Marc Séré de Rivières, head of Tdh mission in Iraq.
Al-Sherqat is a place where families come together after years of separation and where women can take off their burqas and hijabs without the fear of being punished. A woman who was unified with her son tells us: “I cannot describe the joy. I cried and suffered because I missed him. I will never be able to describe the happiness to be reunited with my family that I have not seen for two years.”
In the photo, displaced families are arriving in the newly established reception centre of Tdh in Sherqat. In the back, the son has just been reunited with his mother after two years.
This month, we opened the second reception centre in Al-Sherqat, which can accommodate up to 300 people. Upon their arrival, children and their families receive blankets and matrasses for their overnight stay. We also provide them with kitchen sets, hygiene and baby kits to cover their basic needs. They usually stay two days before going either to their relatives or to the formal displaced people’s camps.
We continue our efforts in the field to support families that are fleeing from IS with the most needed help. You, too, can contribute to this effort by doing an emergency donation.
Photo credit: ©Tdh