Heading north with the thousands of families searching for safety in Iraq

by Joe Cropp/IFRC | International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) - Switzerland
Wednesday, 23 July 2014 14:15 GMT

Joe Cropp/IFRC

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Ali Askhar is a proud, strong man. The owner of a small trucking company in Mosul, he’s always been able to provide for his family. Today, camped by the road leading towards Erbil in the Kurdish zone, his shoulders finally sag and he cries – possibly for the first time in his life. “I just want to get them to safety,” he pleads, pointing to his family of 16 crowded under a tarpaulin, trying to escape the searing 43C heat. “My daughter is about to have her first baby, my grandchildren are sick. I just want to get them to safety.”

In early June, as the violence reached Mosul, killing two of his sons, Ali packed his extended family into three trucks and headed north to the safety of the Kurdish zone. The small convoy stopped briefly at one of the tented camps the Kurdistan Regional Government has set up along the border between Kurdistan and Iraq to accommodate people fleeing the violence.

However, like many families attempting to escape the heat and crowded conditions, they continued on towards the urban areas further north.

Eventually, they were told they could travel no further. Only those who have family in the north – or who can find a sponsor – are allowed to travel to regional centres such as Erbil, which are already struggling to cope with the growing population of displaced people. 

IFRC has launched an emergency appeal for CH6.4 million in cash, kind or services to help support the Iraqi Red Crescent Society meet the needs of 180,000 people for six months.