Abo Zaid's Story: Surviving Hardships, Starvation and Violence in Talafar

In the last four days, over 3,200 displaced Iraqis from Talafar, the last major ISIL stronghold in Iraq, arrived in IOM's emergency sites in Qayara and Haj Ali, 60 km south of Mosul. The displaced spoke of the many hardships they experienced. IOM spoke wih Abo Zaid. Below is his story:

“We fled on 14 August from Abo Maria village – between Kasik and Talafar. We walked for seven hours until we reached the Iraqi military. They took us to Hammam Al-Alil and we stayed there for three days, but then we chose to go to Haj Ali because I have relatives there.

I wish I could go back to our house but the situation there is tragic. We were trapped for nine months and nothing was allowed to reach us – no food, no goods, no clothes. I have six children, aged one year and a half to 11 years, but I didn't let the older ones go to school because ISIL controlled all schools.

I keep livestock for a living, but sold all my sheep before we fled. We also left behind two cars and our house. We didn't bring anything with us, we fled with only a few bottles of water.

When my children would hear the bombs falling nearby, they would ask me time and again to leave the village. Almost everyone in the village had left, but we could not just walk out. My children had three sleepless nights because of the sound of shelling.

When the time came we left in the dark, bringing only water and our personal documents. I put one of my little children on my shoulders, while the youngest was in his mother’s arms. My mother and sister were part of our group. We walked as fast as we could so ISIL members would not catch us. The children were so tired they were almost sleeping as they were walking.

When we reached the Iraqi security forces, and then Hamam Al-Alil, all the children received vaccinations and the rest of the family a health checkup. The children were very happy because they were given candies and sweets; it was the first time they had had sweets in a long time because of the siege around our village!

As soon as we arrived to Haj Ali emergency site, we received a food package. There is water here, and IOM gave us a tent and non-food item kits as well as blankets mattresses.”