For ISIS, Mosul is the last major stronghold in Iraq. For the Iraqi government and coalition forces, the populated city represents the final push to liberate the country from a feared terrorist organization. But to the people of Mosul, the city is their home. For over two years, the civilians still residing in the city have endured unspeakable evil.
ISIS atrocities committed against the residents of Mosul are escalating as Iraqi forces make progress. Reports indicate that hundreds of civilians have been electrocuted, shot, dragged behind vehicles, or crucified by ISIS fighters. In recent cases, ISIS reportedly allowed civilians to head towards safety—carrying white flags—only to gun them down right before they reached friendly Iraqi forces.
Caught between ISIS and the coalition’s military offensive, the people of Mosul are either staying in place to avoid being killed in the crossfire, or taking the risk of fleeing. Those that manage to flee the city and make it to safety are often starving, thirsty, and exhausted, with only the clothes on their back.
We pray that God uses Samaritan’s Purse in a mighty way to show His love and mercy to these people who are fleeing evil and desperately need relief.
Samaritan’s Purse is on the frontlines of what could very possibly be the largest humanitarian crisis of 2016. The international community has assigned us the responsibility to serve a cluster of several camps and villages east of Mosul—precisely where the first refugees from inside Mosul are currently heading.
As a preferred partner for the World Food Programme (WFP) in this response, Samaritan’s Purse has been supplied enough food from WFP to feed up to 150,000 people that could settle in our area of intervention over the coming weeks and months. Our staff are also distributing water, shoes, blankets, and hygiene kits.
Some displaced families are already returning to their villages and towns that ISIS occupied just weeks before. In these locations, the returnees have little to no supplies and we have been asked to provide assistance. Samaritan’s Purse staff are providing heavy-duty tarps to help protect damaged homes, as well as distributing blankets, kerosene stoves, fuel containers, and emergency food rations.
In two of the villages, where approximately 50 families returned, we were the first organization to provide relief. These people are Kakai, a Kurdish ethnic group that practices a mystical and monotheistic religion that began in 14th century Iran. Although our main response is to provide emergency food to families in displacement camps, we will also continue to provide assistance to those returning home.
As many as one million people could flee Mosul, depending on the military situation over the coming months. Despite the efforts of the United Nations, the Iraqi government, and many NGOs, there is still a significant need for more camps and relief supplies as the numbers of displaced families increase daily. “This is going to be a very large-scale catastrophe,” said Matthew Nowery, who directs our work in Iraq. “A huge number of people will be moving into a system that’s already stretched.”
To increase our capacity to respond to the overwhelming need, we are looking into the possibility of airlifting supplies into Iraq—although this option requires explicit permission from the Iraqi government. If approved, we will be able to significantly increase our response.
In the meantime, we continue to work with the UN, World Food Programme, and NGOs to provide compassion and much-needed aid for those who are able to escape the brutal oppression of ISIS. Please continue to pray that God uses us during this large-scale humanitarian crisis to bring the light of the Gospel to a very dark situation.