IOM Provides Psychosocial Support for Children from Mosul
Iraq - According to IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) Emergency Tracking over 25,000 individuals have been displaced from west Mosul in the last five days alone as fighting between ISIL and Iraqi forces draw closer to the old city where an estimated 118,000 people are believed to be entrapped.
A large percentage of those escaping are children.
In IOM’s constructed emergency site in Qayara’s airstrip, of the 49,564 internally displaced persons (IDPs), 28,387 are children (14,336 boys and 14,051 girls).
In IOM’s second constructed emergency site, Haj Ali, of the 34,561 IDPs, 20,390 are children (10,368 boys and 10,022 girls).
Humanitarian organizations estimate that nearly 55 per cent of Mosul’s IDPs are children.
Most children have gone through a perilous journey when escaping from ISIL reign under which they witnessed horrific acts, from beatings, to executions and displays of violence by the group, against those they deemed sinners.
A mother in East Mosul spoke of how ISIL flogged her 11-year-old boy every time she refused to return to her husband, who had joined ISIL.
Though she was granted permission to separate from her husband by a sharia court as long as she forfeited all rights to financial support or help from him, he continuously tried to force her back to him.
Each time she refused to go back, she said, ISIL would take her son and flog him as punishment.
As battles intensified between the Iraqi military and ISIL, many children have seen their parents, or members of families killed by the militant group while escaping or from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) set to prevent civilians from leaving their homes.
Two children from Mosul recently saw their mother and brother killed when ISIL fired mortar at their house.
The children were trapped alone for hours in the house before neighbors came to their rescue and were able to remove the rubble that blocked the doorway.
With the children now safely reunited with their extended family members, the process of applying for and getting new identification documents to allow them back to school and life in general needs to be sorted, as most of their documents were destroyed in the house.
Infants born under ISIL reign also have to have new documents re-issued by the Iraqi government to replace those issued by ISIL and which bear the group’s registration branding.
Thousands of children have also missed school for the best part of the last four years while living under ISIL.
Many schools had been closed by ISIL, some transformed into and used as training grounds for children, with girls largely banned from getting an education.
Most families stopped their children from attending ISIL-led schools, where the group imposed a rigid and extremist curriculum.
IOM is providing psychosocial services at seven centres in five sites which serve displaced people from Mosul: Qayarah Airstrip and Haj Ali emergency sites, and Hasansham, Nergizilya 1 and Chamakor camps.
Activities especially designed for children to help them process and move on from the past include: expressive and creative poetry and singing, collaborative game playing expressive drawing, group support sessions, awareness sessions, relaxation sessions, running and jumping competitions (with psychosocial adjustments), hand crafting, storytelling, tree planting, football, volleyball and teambuilding games.
IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Thomas Lothar Weiss said: “Children affected by the Mosul conflict have suffered greatly – they have lost family members, had their education interrupted, and been exposed to horrific violence. Despite the traumas they have endured, children from Mosul have shown admirable resilience coupled with an urgency to embrace life and move on. IOM and our humanitarian partners in cooperation with the Government of Iraq, are determined to continue to provide comprehensive assistance and support to help children recover and move on to the next brighter chapter of their lives.”
Last week the United Nations children’s agency warned that Mosul’s children are bearing the brunt of the intensified fighting between the US-backed government forces and ISIL in the city’s western sector.
According to the Government of Iraq’s Ministry of Migration and Displacement (MoMD), a total of 630,039 people have fled west Mosul since the start of the operation on February 19th and cumulatively, 806,189 people have been displaced since the start of the military operations to retake Mosul city began.
IOM’s DTM actively monitors displacement across Iraq. The latest DTM Emergency Tracking figures on displacement across Iraq are available at: http://iraqdtm.iom.int.
Cumulatively, from 18 October 2016 to 8 June 2017, IOM Iraq’s DTM has tracked and confirmed the location of more than 548,000 displaced individuals (91,336 families) from Mosul. Of these, more than 411,000 are currently displaced and more than 145,000 have returned.