We travel in the Hawiga area of northern Iraq, not far from the oil town of Kirkuk. The IS terrorists had arrived here by 2014 and surrounded the area. A year later, they encircled the small village we are now visiting, and about ten people were executed, and others were injured. Salih Muhammed Salih grew vegetables and kept cows and sheep in this village where he grew up. After a couple of years when the Islamic State’’s men came to his home and forced him to move to another place, he decided to flee.
He related that before that, he had let his beard grow, to be on the safe side, and at the same time IS put pressure on the men to attend the mosque five hours each day. He and his family that included their four children fled one night on foot for 13 hours to reach a safe place.
Problem with water
When Salih Muhammed Salih, now 47 years-old, came back in the fall of 2017, he was happy and said he felt ”born again”. But at the same time, it was not a beautiful sight he returned to.
– My house was left standing, but IS had taken everything inside; they stole our clothing, the washing machine, the television, our carpets – everything.
Like many others in the area, water was a problem in the stone house that the family had lived in, and now returned to.
– IS took most of the water tanks and used them for stealing oil. The rest of the water tanks they destroyed.The goal of the Islamic State is destruction.
Holds 1000 liters of water
Salih Muhammad Salih and I walked up the stone stairs to the flat Middle Eastern roof overlooking the village. There are a couple of cows down below. There, on the roof, is the new water tank that held just over 1,000 liters, that meant that he can have water in the house even when the electricity fails, something that happens quite frequently in Iraq. Pipes in the ground pump up the water to the storage tank.
The stone house looks well-built, large and robust but there is no furniture inside and it will be cold indoors this winter. The family is sleeping on the floor in one room.
– The majority of the men in the village are still unemployed, Salih told us. They may get flour one month, but not the next.
The house next door was in much worse condition, and the rain has leaked through the roof and water covered the walls and floor.
Read more: Few Christians return to Mosul left in ruins
Eight villages has water tanks
The British Christian relief organization Tearfund, who is responsible for the water projects, is linked to the Evangelical Alliance in that country and is also supported by the Pentecostal movement and PMU in Sweden.
So far just over 2,100 water tanks have been set up in eight different villages in the area. But there are in total about 200 villages.
Tearfund also works to provide cash-support to selected families, according to clear criteria, with food and other necessities, as well as providing education in economics and entrepreneurship so as to enable someone to start a hairdressing firm, open a small shop or a sewing business.
In another village near the border with Turkey, there are similar projects underway. Azima Ibrahim, 30, also received a water tank on her roof and now has running water, both cold and hot inside the house. Previously, she had to walk 30 meters outside her house to a common outdoor water tank. Now she is showing her seven-year-old nephew how easy it is to wash, shower and wash hands. She also uses the water for drinking and cooking, but is still not sure how pure the water is so; she usually boils it one extra time.
Salah Zeinal, spokesman and Mukhtar in the village, says that many of the internally displaced persons lack work and money. This year, he and his wife try to hand out blankets, cushions, and heaters to the families. In the house we were sitting in, three families of 19 people resided. He was also happy about the water tanks, the hygiene kits and the plumbing that the village had received as aid.
– It makes life a lot easier for those who live here while they are still refugees, said Salah Zeinal.
Translated by: ADFA
Artikelserie: Efter IS
So many need support for:
- Health - 5.5 million.
- Water, sanitation and hygiene - 2.3 million.
- Education -Of which there are 2.6 million children who need schooling.
- Food - 2.4 million.
- Other material needs - 2.3 million.
- 60 percent of the families have an income that is below the Survival Minimum Expenditure Basket, SMEB.
- Source: Iraq Humanitarian Country Team, Nov. 2018.
Humanitarian needs in Iraq:
- 6.7 million Iraqis are considered in need of humanitarian aid (18% of the population).
- 2 million are still internally displaced, of which over half have been homeless for over three years.
- The support necessities are: Health, water, sanitation and hygiene, education, food, other material needs. Support to establish livelihoods and more.