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Running for their lives

20 June 2017, Voices from the Field, Emergencies

Fleeing life under ISIS in Mosul

When life under ISIS rule in Mosul became impossibly dangerous, Samer* had no option but to flee; leaving his mother and younger siblings behind. This is his story.

“I left our home in Mosul with my cousins and elder brothers. We carried a few clothes with us and walked between the buildings until we reached a point where we waited for someone to come to pick us up and take us to the other side. But when this guy came and saw that we were so many people, he left, he refused to take us, saying with this number we will be spotted by ISIS and probably won’t be able to cross.

It was a very cold night and we were left stranded between the destroyed buildings, we didn’t know in which direction we were supposed to walk. My elder brothers and cousins left us in a building and asked us to remain quiet until they figured out where to go.

We stayed for a while but we were freezing. We found a military quiver thrown on the street, so we took it and burned it to get some warmth. But as we were gathering around it a bullet inside the quiver exploded, one of my younger cousin’s hand caught fire and we all jumped away from the fire. We thought we would be spotted now and ISIS would come and kill us, but thank god no one came.

Then the elder ones came and took us, we walked for few hours in the dark until we reached the military area where we were transferred to the camp.

In the camp I stayed with my elder siblings and we managed to send a message to my mum that we arrived safely. It was very difficult to live away from her, and we were very worried as the news we were hearing about Mosul was terrible.

One day we heard that my uncle’s house was bombed, it was very close to our house. I was very afraid and we didn’t hear anything from my mum. I was praying day and night to keep them safe, and day after day new people would come to the camp and tell horrific stories about what was happening in Mosul. Some of them were coming from our neighbourhood but had no news on my mum and siblings.

We were really stressed and extremely worried, until one day, after two months in the camp, we finally heard from mum. She told us they had made it out safely and now they were in another camp. We managed to speak to mum several times, but we couldn’t leave our camp and she couldn’t leave hers either.

So, I spoke to a woman who used to come and check on us every couple of days. She works in an organisation for children. I asked her to help me and in a few weeks she managed to bring my mum and siblings here. I was thrilled. Nothing can describe how happy I was to be reunited with my family again.

Before she came here I refused to go to school or be part of any of the activities they were doing for children here in the camp, I was scared and sad, but when my mum came I started going to school again, I was out of school for almost three years. It felt very good to be back in school again, they teach us English, Arabic, Math and Science. I love English the most and when I grow up I will be an English teacher.”

Since the start of the Mosul response, Save the Children has provided psychosocial support for 13,246 children through Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) located in various camps. Child Friendly Spaces offer children psychosocial support to help them overcome the psychological difficulties and traumas caused by living amid conflict.

*Names changed to protect identity

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