We met Hannan, 22, (not pictured) at a hygiene kit distribution you supported in Essien, a village in northern Iraq.
Like many Yazidi people, she and her family escaped 20 days of entrapment by ISIS on Mount Sinjar in August 2014. She somberly describes the desperation of passing people abandoned on the side of the road, those whose families were unable to support them throughout the trip to flee ISIS.
“Our house was attacked by Daesh [ISIS],” she says. “My sister’s husband was executed by them.” Her sister is only 26 and her late husband was 27.
The family had to carry her sick father part of the way, determined that he would not be left behind. He had a stroke following the dramatic escape, and she describes how her mother has also developed health problems.
“We had no water on the journey,” she says. “We see a lot of fear. We were terrified. It was a very hard time.”
When they arrived in Essien, the family had nowhere to settle and set up camp under trees. For a time, they lived with other families in a local public school but had to leave when the school year started. At that time, up to three extended families were staying in each classroom and sharing the school’s bathroom facilities with very limited shower facilities.
After leaving the school, Hannan’s family and other families found spaces in abandoned buildings through word of mouth—relying on each other to call when they found available spaces.
While grateful for the hospitality of local people in Essien, it is a struggle for Hannan to think optimistically about the immediate future.
“Everything is on hold. There are no celebrations, no marriages… if our village is still occupied we will have to settle here. We don’t know our future.”
Hannan and the other women nearby during the time of our interview referenced the kidnapped Yazidi women who have received international attention.
“We hope for the safety of our sisters and neighbours, and we fear for them.”
The distribution of heaters, kerosene, hygiene kits and other essential non-food items to people displaced in northern Iraq was made possible by $1.8 million in funding from the Canadian government via the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development’s International Humanitarian Assistance Program, as well as through your generous donations. Our partners at Lutheran World Federation-Iraq and CAPNI (Christian Aid Program Northern Iraq) carry out the distributions on the ground.
Photo: Women and children wait for hygiene kits to be distributed. CLWR/R.Granke.
For her privacy we aren’t publishing a photo of Hannan.