Iraq Crisis: Stories from the Most Vulnerable

Since January 2014, more than three million people have lost their homes in Iraq. When assessing the devastating crisis across the country, it is easy to become lost in the magnitude of numbers. Yet, each of the more than three million people displaced across Iraq due to recent conflict has a story to tell. These people are all individuals with histories, families, challenges and hopes for the future.

IOM has responded to this unprecedented displacement crisis by providing non-food item aid, shelter, psychosocial and medical assistance, and transportation to millions of those most in need. While delivering this life-saving aid, beneficiaries often approach IOM Iraq field staff to share their stories. Having lost everything they owned while fleeing for their lives, these stories are often all they have left. They share them with those who will listen in hopes that people will better understand their plight and feel compelled to assist them.

It is with this respect for their experiences that we present a collection of such stories. It is our hope that those who read them will gain a better understanding of the situation that these three million displaced persons face daily, as well as the difficult experiences they have lived through.
While in Dohuk governorate, I had the opportunity to attend a distribution of non-food item aid to a small village near the Syrian border. Upon arrival with colleagues and the aid, we found only a handful of houses and wondered if this was the correct village. As we learned, the village consisted of only ten families who had lived there since the early 20th century.

We were surprised that these 100 villagers were hosting nearly 100 displaced families from the Sinjar area. We asked how it was possible for the village to increase its population ten-fold overnight. The mayor of the village told us plainly: “If we had been the victims of such violence, other Iraqis would have welcomed us. We all share what little we have because others would have done the same for us.”

It is my hope that in this collection of stories, we may find not only examples of tragedy and loss, but also examples of such generosity, hospitality, humanity and hope.

Dr. Thomas Lothar WEISS
Director / Chief of Mission
IOM Iraq

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