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Iraq: A terrifying journey to safety

13-02-2014 Feature

As the security situation in Fallujah deteriorated, Fawzia, a 55-year-old divorced woman, and her family fled her home to seek refuge with relatives in Ain Al-Tamur, a city located to the west of Karbala, 120 kilometres from Fallujah.

 VIDEO - On 15 January 2014 the ICRC delivered lifesaving assistance to the hundreds of families from Iraq's Al-Anbar province. Fleeing increasing violence in the city of Fallujah, they sought refuge in Ain Al-Tamur, a town west of Karbala (120 km from Fallujah). Nearly 900 people were provided with food, blankets and first necessity materials. The family of Fawzia were among them.

At the family home in Fallujah, Fawzia, her teenage son, her daughter’s family and her elder son’s family were listening to the sounds of the explosions. “We decided to leave the house and move to Amiriat Al-Falujah, 25 kilometres from the city. I was worried about my 15 year-year-old son who was injured by a mortar shell during the violence in Fallujah in 2006,” said Fawzia with tears in her eyes.

Yet the situation when they reached Amiriat Al-Falujah was no better.

“When we arrived at the home of the parents of my daughter’s husband, we were surprised to find the situation there was worse than in Fallujah,” said Fawzia. “The sound of explosions were so loud that they raised fear in my grandchildren’s hearts. This is why we decided to leave the town and go to our relatives in Ain Al-Tamur.”

A perilous journey

The husband of Amal, Fawzia’s recently married daughter, helped the family to rent a car which would take them to safety. The family left Amiriat Al-Fallujah at sunset. All movements out of the town were difficult as the security situation was bad and the road dangerous. The children were terrified by the sound of explosions and bullets flying over their heads.

“It was a terrifying journey,” recalled Amal crying. “It took us one night to reach Ain Al-Tamur. The weather was very cold and we were worried about our children. I do not know what happened to my husband who stayed behind to take care of his elderly parents. I haven’t heard from him for ten days. A situation like that, when you lose contact with loved ones, is so hard to deal with.”

It was in Ain Al-Tamur that help from the ICRC reached the family. They are now living with relatives who prepared one room for Fawzia, her daughter and her son, while her married son rented an old house in which he and his family now live.

“You gave me hope and I thank you,” said Fawzia. “We pray that the situation becomes stable again so that we can go back home.”


What ICRC did in Iraq in January 2014

• More than 4,000 households involving some 26,000 people, displaced as a result of the recent violence in Al-Anbar province, received food and basic household necessities;
• Water tanks were distributed to improve access to drinking water for nearly 700 people in Al Rahhaliya who fled their homes escaping violence in Al-Anbar province;
• Some 35,000 patients benefited from medical treatment provided in 13 ICRC-supported primary health-care centres;
• Al-Yarmouk hospital in Baghdad received on-site support from an ICRC surgeon in order to improve its emergency services capacity;
• More than 2,200 patients received care at ten ICRC-supported and one ICRC-operated physical rehabilitation centres.

>>More facts and figures