Read caption "Life was not good there, there was no food and no money," said displaced Sabiha Abdullah Qadir, 85, from Tal Afar. Photo: Alan Ayoubi/NRC

Tal Afar offensive displacing thousands

Published 22. Aug 2017
Since the Iraqi military offensive to retake Tal Afar was launched on Sunday 20 August, 14,000 people have fled their homes. As the fighting gets closer, another 40,000 civilians are estimated to still be living in Tal Afar city and its surrounding areas.

“No one has seen the suffering we have seen. Only God saw it,” said Fahmi Hassan who is newly displaced from Tal Afar. “53 people died only on the way from Mazraa to the Badush checkpoint. People are in chaos. Everything in our life is destroyed,” he said.

Read caption Fahmi Hassan is newly displaced from Tal Afar. He now lives in the Hamam al-Alil transit site. Photo: Alan Ayoubi/NRC.

  

In total, over 30,000 people have fled from Tal Afar since April. Many flee to Hamam al-Alil, a city outside of Mosul where the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) is present providing aid. The majority of people arriving here are from villages around Tal Afar city and report walking up to 20 hours before reaching Badoush, a point at which the authorities provide onward transport, including to Hamam al-Alil. NRC staff report that people arriving in Hamam al-Alil are in poor condition.

“Civilians who have been trapped under IS’s rule for more than three years are starting to reach relative safety, including in Hamam al-Alil,” said Heidi Diedrich, Country Director for NRC in Iraq. “It is critical that the barriers civilians are now facing on their freedom of movement are immediately lifted, so that they can move onward to camps and communities of their choice.”

NRC manages two transit sites in Hamam al-Alil, providing services to more than 6,500 people who recently fled Tal Afar. The transit sites, which are near capacity, usually provide temporary accommodation for displaced civilians for one-to-two days. Current movement restrictions placed on these civilians has resulted in people staying in the transit sites for much longer.

With thousands more expected to flee toward Hamam al-Alil in the coming weeks, it will become increasingly difficult for humanitarian actors to provide the necessary assistance to those fleeing the violence in Tal Afar.

Key facts about arrivals in Hamam al-Alil:
  • Bottled water, canned beans, meat, biscuits and dates – enough stock to last for two days for a family of six – is provided to new arrivals daily
  • 200,000 litres of potable water is provided every day; the water is treated and safe to drink
  • 150 latrines are available - enough latrines for the current population
  • Hygiene kits are distributed within the two days of arrival, including shampoo, soap, toothpaste, antiseptic, towels and sponges
Note to editors:
  • Footage from the transit site and the interview with Fahmi Hassan can be found here
  • Images from the transit site and of people displaced from Tal Afar can be found here
  • Media contact: Melany Markham, Media Coordinator Iraq, +964 (0) 7515019899, melany.markham@nrc.no