Iraq: Not Syria – but close

 

Malik *, age 8, holds a picture of himself in the garden of his home in Mosul
Malik *, age 8 and now displaced, holds a picture of himself in the garden of his home in Mosul

It was hard to believe, a couple of weeks ago, that the dreadful situation in Syria could get worse, except of course by continuing.

Then, on 6 June, armed groups overran the northern Iraq city of Mosul, forcing hundreds of thousands of citizens to leave.

 

Children forced to run

Many fled too fast to grab even the basics they need for survival; many more are even more ill-equipped to survive life on the run: they are children, and there are over 500,000 of them.

This is one of the biggest displacements in recent history and, while Iraq’s problems are not Syria’s, they are close cousins: you don’t have a civil war on your doorstep, and thousands of desperate refugees flowing across your borders, with no knock-on effects.

“This is not your usual humanitarian crisis,” says Save the Children’s Iraq Country Director Tina Yu, and she is absolutely right, but just as an earthquake can cause a tsunami, a seismic disruption in one country can inundate another – and that is what is happening in Iraq.

 

What will happen to the Middle East? 

Some people think that Iraq will never be the same. It is a dire situation and one in danger of deteriorating further. Save the Children is doing as much as we can – providing the displaced Iraqis with food, water and basic hygiene kits, as well as safe spaces and protection services for the most vulnerable children.

But as we do our best for the thousands of displaced Iraqis currently sheltering in parks, schools and mosques or on the stiflingly hot streets, and as we also attempt to help the Syrians pouring out of their collapsing homeland into countries that are less and less welcoming as time goes on, we need also to take a minute to stop and think: if a solution is not found to the Syrian conflict, where will be next?

 

*Name has been changed to protect identity

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