Iraq after ISIL: People in Need helps families get through the winter

Iraq after ISIL: People in Need helps families get through the winter

It has been a little over two months since the government of Iraq declared the war with so-called Islamic State (ISIL) over. The physical battle may be in the past, but the brutality of ISIL will not be forgotten for years, if ever. Images of devastated villages, homes, schools and hospitals only let us imagine what millions of children, women, and men must had endured.

Izzulddin, from East Shirqat in Salah al Din Governorate, is among the many whose lives ISIL changed forever. First, they killed two of my brothers because they were police officers. On 29th of July 2017, ISIL entered our village. They arrested my father and older brother,” Izzulddin tells People in Need. In that moment he had not yet realized that his life would never be the same. "Before ISIL our life was very good and my parents took care of everything."

Tortured by ISIL, and by the inability to care for his family

Now, Izzulddin’s father and brother are missing, two brothers have been killed, and his mother is seriously ill. The 23-year-old became the one responsible for his extended family. He couldn’t imagine how to do it in a place with nothing but war: “I didn’t know what to do. I had no job.”

Izzulddin himself was arrested and tortured by ISIL multiple times, but he says it wasn’t the physical suffering that caused him pain, but the inability to meet his family’s basic needs. When the fighting between ISIL and pro-government forces escalated in their village, the family decided to flee.

They fled to Debaga village where they stayed for several months until the battle was over and it was safe to return. Izzulddin could not wait to go home. After packing their few possessions, Izzulddin and his relatives moved back to their village to discover the home had been damaged and looted.

Hope, the only thing left

Like Izzulddin, 37-year-old widow Khaleda recalls her life before the war with nostalgia. “My husband used to receive a salary every month; now we can only rely on the support of our friends,” says the mother of ten. Her husband had been shopping at Hawija, a center of Kirkuk province, 80 kilometres from their village, when a sudden air bombardment killed him.

Struggling to survive every day without any income and with winter temperatures dropping as low as zero degrees, neither Izzulddin nor Khaleda had much hope left. People in Need and it’s Alliance2015 partner ACTED with support of the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) and People in Need’s Real Gift program were able to step in.

They helped not only Izzuldin’s and Khaleda’s families but many other families from East Shirqat in Salah al Din Governorate, regain some hope. The 300 families received heaters, kerosene for heating, jerry cans to store the kerosene, blankets, mattresses, and tarpaulin to be able to get through the winter.

The war with ISIL has already taken too much away from thousands of families like Izzuldin’s and Khaleda’s. It took away their loved ones, their homes, their dreams, and their peace. We cannot let the war also take away their hope.

Author: Tatiana Gavyuk, PIN Syria, Iraq Communication/Advocacy Officer