The children have not been to school for two years - but now the family is safeAround 18,000 persons have managed to flee as fighting moves closer and closer to the city of Mosul in Northern Iraq. Mohammed and his family are some of those who have come into the safe areas over the last weeks.
Mohammed, his wife and their three children, twins aged 6 years and the older brother at 11, have arrived in Jeddah camp south of Mosul just a few days ago. They managed to get to the camp under dramatic circumstances.
"A week ago, Daesh (the Arabic term for the so-called Islamic State, ed.) came to our house and told us that they had captured large new areas, and we should follow them. Both television and internet were banned under Daesh, so it was impossible for us to verify any information. We walked with Daesh fighters for two days, but suddenly the Iraqi soldiers came and killed the fighters who were with us. Then they took us along with them - and followed us to the camp here, where we finally feel safe," Mohammed says.
Mohammed explains that life the last two years under Islamic State has been very difficult for the family - and especially the children.
"I used to work as a security officer at the oil fields - but after Daesh took control of the area it was only possible to work for them. I refused to obey them so I have not had work for two years. Our family has lived very bad. Previously we had three meals a day but for a long time, we were only able to eat once a day. I managed to start a small garden with vegetables, where I planted tomatoes, lettuce and other vegetables. and we had a single goat that could provide milk for the children," explains Mohammed and continues on the situation for his children:
"Daesh also took over the schools and the curriculum was very bad. They would teach children how to be warriors, how to make bombs and how to organize attacks. It was absolutely horrible, and we refused to let our children learn such terrible things so my kids have not gone to school the last two years. I hope with all my heart that soon they can get back to school and learn again - so that they can have a future," says Mohammed.
He is being handed a cigarette from a DRC staff member - and says quickly:
"Did you know that if I smoked this cigarette while Daesh saw me, I would get 15 lashes? I am so happy that I've got my freedom back. Now all we need is to be able to go back to our home. But I will only return when the situation is fully secure - and there are no more fighting. For many years we've all lived side by side - as Iraqis. I'm sure we can do this again in the future," Mohammed said.
The Danish Refugee Council is now working hard to assist the many people who have come from fighting around Mosul - and the many thousands of persons expected to flee over the next weeks. DRC will be distributing food, water, tarpaulins, blankets and winterization. In addition, DRC will be responsible for water and sanitation in some of the camps, which are being prepared to protect and host the many civilians who are forced to flee.