BRUSSELS, 2 November, 2016 - Children fleeing Mosul are arriving at camps petrified, struggling to express themselves, and in some cases too terrified to speak, say World Vision staff based just outside of the city.
Two years living under ISIL occupation and facing a litany of dangers while fleeing, such as landmines, snipers and fighters, has taken a toll on children’s physical and mental health.
Aaron Moore, World Vision’s Programs Manager in northern Iraq says: “We are working with children who have arrived from Mosul in the last few days that are showing the crushing impact of being trapped in a city that was taken over two years ago.
“Many children have been stuck in their homes while bombings, sniper fire or chaos rules around them. Others have witnessed the death of family members.
“One little boy who is five years old arrived at the camp too terrified to speak. He saw his 15-year-old brother killed while they fled ISIL. He was not mixing with the other children - he was simply staring at them.
“Thankfully, with the support of a trained World Vision psychologist, he was able to say his name by the end of the day. However this is just the beginning of what could be years of specialist support, as children begin to rebuild their lives and regain a sense of normality.”
The child-focused agency has been setting up ‘Child Friendly Spaces’ in northern Iraq as part of its emergency response work to the Mosul conflict. The spaces act as safe places where children can find some normality in the chaos and receive psychological support, including taking part in activities like painting, sports and games.
“The EU and its Member States must ensure that the Appeal for Mosul is fully funded so that aid agencies can respond to the needs of children and their families fleeing the city” says Justin Byworth, World Vision Brussels’ Executive Director. “We also call on all parties to prioritise humane treatment at every stage of the Mosul operation”
More than 20,000 people have been internally displaced after fleeing Mosul since the 17th of October, many of them seeking safety in camps.
Up to 700,000 people could leave the city, which has been occupied since June 2014. World Vision has been working around the clock to prepare for their needs, including providing food and clean water.
World Vision supports children and their families in places like Debaga and Zelican camps. This includes distributions and providing ‘child friendly spaces’ – safe places where children can find some normality in the chaos and receive emotional support.
World Vision’s support will scale up to include food, building water supplies, hygiene kits and non-food items as more people flee the city.
Notes to editors
World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy organisation dedicated to working with children, families and communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. It works in close to 100 countries in most regions of the world including Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Asia Pacific Region.
World Vision Brussels’ office represents World Vision members in 12 European countries, including 10 EU member states, as well as the wider international World Vision partnership.