Esmat Ahmed at a youth center in Qasrok where he will receive WFP food assistance for him and his family. Copyright: WFP/Mohammed Al-Bahbahani
As violence escalates in Mosul and neighbouring cities in northern Iraq, thousands of people are fleeing their homes in search of safety. Esmat Ahmed, an Iraqi man in his late twenties, left his house and belongings in Hay El Baker village in Mosul last month. He braved the scorching heat and closed-off roads to walk to the neighbouring town of Qasrok, located in the Kurdistan region of Iraq where he now shares a small rented apartment with 14 other family members.
QASROK, Iraq – Esmat Ahmed stands in a queue at a youth center in Qasrok, waiting to receive food assistance from WFP for himself and members of his extended family.
He is among some 90,000 people who have been assisted by WFP after fleeing the violence that hit Mosul in mid-June. WFP plans to reach over 200,000 people displaced by the conflict in coming weeks. Most of the food distributions so far have taken place in the Kurdistan Regional Government area as well as in shelters and camps on the outskirts of Mosul.
Journey On Foot From Mosul
“We were afraid of the random bombings and aircraft missiles in Mosul and we fled. We left our homes and everything we owned,” said Ahmed. “The roads around us were closed so we had to walk with our children for miles and miles. We had nothing with us but our clothes and simple items we could carry.”
Ahmed spoke as he collected his WFP food rations at a youth center. His package includes wheat flour, rice, vegetable oil and canned beans among other items. The food is sufficient to last him and his family a month.
“After we left Mosul, we reached a checkpoint where we managed to get into a car and arrive here. My family, mother and sister’s family all came with me. We are 15 people now staying together in a small rented apartment.”
Longing For Home
Despite his relief that sufficient food supplies will be given to him and his family during their stay in Qasrok, Ahmed is bereft at not knowing what their future holds.
“This assistance will be very helpful and we are thankful for it. My family is at home waiting for me and the food,” said Ahmed. “I don’t know how long we will stay here. We hear that the situation in our hometown is worsening now. There is no electricity, no necessary food items, and no water. My one wish is that my family and I can return to our normal lives in Hay al Baker.”
WFP Response in Numbers
Despite a challenging security situation and displaced people on the move, WFP has distributed food to close to 90,000 displaced people who fled the violence that hit Mosul in mid-June.
Before the latest wave of displacements, starting with the violence in Mosul, WFP was already assisting about 240,000 people displaced by conflict in Iraq’s al-Anbar Governorate, as well as more than 100,000 refugees from the conflict in Syria, who are sheltering in Iraq.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced by the crisis – some are displaced in difficult and precarious situations in and around Mosul in hard-to-reach areas and others have already returned home when the fighting eased in their areas
WFP plans to scale up its operation to reach over 200,000 displaced people in coming weeks.
Distributions are ongoing in Erbil, Dohuk, and Sulaymaniyah through partners such as ACTED and IOM. WFP staff are also sending food to Karbala and Babel governorates this week.
For more information about WFP operations in Iraq visit our country page