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Yassem's story: the search for food, shelter and safety

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A man, woman and child sitting down

Iraq’s ongoing violence has forced Yassem Mohmmed and his family to flee their home in the city of Mosul. Since then they have been camping in a community hall in Sinjar, relying on the Red Crescent for shelter and support.

The family left their home just after midnight as explosions hit Mosul. With nothing but the clothes they were wearing, they joined thousands of others walking west in search of safety.

Yassem talks of how the road was attacked during the night, the fear his family felt, and how people following closely behind were killed. “Bombs were falling on houses all around us, so we ran. We left everything behind.”

“We just wanted to get somewhere safe, to get away from the fighting. But now we don’t know where to go. We have nothing.”

Water shortage and two sick children

Weeks after escaping Mosul, home for the seven members of Yassem’s family is a few square metres of floor space. Alongside 200 other families, they are sleeping on donated mattresses and relying on food from the Iraqi Red Crescent Society to get by. There are few toilets in the hall, no cooking utensils, and fresh water is in short supply. Adding to the challenges, two of his children have fallen ill.

It is a common story. Currently, many of the hundreds and thousands of people who have fled are being sheltered in over-crowded transit camps, which will struggle to accommodate many more families if the violence continues.

Others rely on the generous support of friends and relatives, with up to five families sharing a single home. Many of these families are already struggling for money, unable to secure the basics they need to get by. Those without family to stay with, or the luxury of savings, are staying in schools, mosques and building sites. 

The problem is made worse by a break down in basic infrastructure in some areas, leaving people without essential services such as water and health care.

Red Crescent helps hundreds of thousands

The Iraqi Red Crescent Society – already providing relief to thousands of Syrian refugees in Iraq – is working hard to bring shelter, food and support to this new wave of displaced families. With support from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, its staff and volunteers have so far helped around 270,000 people.