By Joe Cropp, IFRC in Erbil, Iraq

The man slowly pushes his way through the crowd at the gate, and emerges into the open space of the Khazer relief camp, a timber baby’s cradle slung over his shoulder. His family follow behind with only the possessions they were able to carry – some blankets and a few bags of clothes. Like thousands of others, they have fled Mosul with only what they could carry, making difficult choices on what they would need for life in the camp, and what they valued most.

Photo: Safin Ahmed / Iraqi Red Crescent Society

What would you take if you had to leave your home quickly with only what you could carry? New arrivals to Khazer Camp east of Mosul. Iraqi Red Crescent Society staff and volunteers are working in the camp, providing food, relief supplies and psychosocial support to families who have fled Mosul and surrounding towns. The camp can accommodate some 6000 families, some 30,000 people. Photo: Safin Ahmed / Iraqi Red Crescent Society

 

Expecting a longer stay as the battle to retake Mosul drags on, some families bring their stoves and kitchen utensils. Those who arrive by car or hitch rides on trucks and trailers are able to bring more than those who fled the city on foot, who bring only their most cherished items. Suitcases, mattresses and even the occasional piece of treasured furniture are carried through the front gates of the camp.

A young boy looks out from behind the edge of a tent where he and his family stay in a camp for people displaced from Mosul. Photo: Safin Ahmed / Iraqi Red Crescent Society

A young boy looks out from behind the edge of a tent where he and his family stay in a camp for people displaced from Mosul. Photo: Safin Ahmed / Iraqi Red Crescent Society

 

Inside the camp, the Iraqi Red Crescent Society together with other humanitarian organizations and government agencies provide the basics a family needs: tents, mattresses, blankets, warm clothes, stoves, kitchen sets, jerry cans and hygiene kits. These kits include everything you take for granted in day-to-day life, whether it’s toilet paper, soap or a simple toothbrush.

 

Iraq, Erbil: Daily life goes on in the relief camps around Mosul. Iraqi Red Crescent staff and volunteers are at work in the camps, where they are providing food, and relief supplies such saniation kits to support families who have fled Mosul and surrounding towns. Photo: IRCS/ Safin Ahmed

Iraqi Red Crescent Society teams provide hygiene products including toothbrushes to families who have fled from Mosul and the surrounding areas. Photo: Safin Ahmed / Iraqi Red Crescent Society

 

Iraqi Red Crescent Society provides essential services in the camp, such as safe drinking water, basic healthcare, first aid and psychosocial support. More than 6,700 people have received psychosocial support, and more than 5,600 have received first aid and other medical services.

Iraq, Erbil: Iraqi Red Crescent Society health teams are providing basic health services in the camps and communities around Mosul. Alongside them, trained psychosocial volunteers are providing much needed emotional support.

Iraqi Red Crescent Society health teams are providing basic health services in the camps and communities around Mosul. Alongside them, trained psychosocial volunteers are providing much needed emotional support. Photo: Safin Ahmed / Iraqi Red Crescent Society

 

Iraq, Erbil: Daily life goes on in the relief camps around Mosul. Iraqi Red Crescent staff and volunteers are at work in the camps, where they are providing food, relief supplies and psychosocial support to families who have fled Mosul and surrounding towns. Photo: IRCS/ Safin Ahmed

Daily life goes on in the relief camps around Mosul. Iraqi Red Crescent staff and volunteers are at work in the camps, where they are providing food, relief supplies and psychosocial support to families who have fled Mosul and surrounding towns. Photo: Safin Ahmed / Iraqi Red Crescent Society

 

For other services, the camp residents themselves are already filling the gaps, setting up market stalls and establishing small businesses, with the local barber kept busy cutting hair and shaving beards.

Iraq, Erbil: Daily life goes on in the relief camps around Mosul. Iraqi Red Crescent staff and volunteers are at work in the camps, where they are providing food, relief supplies and psychosocial support to families who have fled Mosul and surrounding towns. Photo: IRCS/ Safin Ahmed

Barber shops are kept busy in camps, with male residents being glad to finally cut their beards. fled Mosul and surrounding towns. Photo: Safin Ahmed / Iraqi Red Crescent Society

 

Iraq, Erbil: Daily life goes on in the relief camps around Mosul. Iraqi Red Crescent staff and volunteers are at work in the camps, where they are providing food, relief supplies and psychosocial support to families who have fled Mosul and surrounding towns. Photo: IRCS/ Safin Ahmed

While essential services are provided by Iraqi Red Crescent Society, humanitarian organizations, and Iraqi government agencies, camp residents have set up their own small businesses to try to gain even a small income. Photo: Safin Ahmed / Iraqi Red Crescent Society

 

Entire villages and city neighbourhoods have fled Mosul and surrounding areas together, and are now again living side-by-side in these relief camps, maintaining community links while they wait, and hope, to safely return home.

Iraq, Erbil: Daily life goes on in the relief camps around Mosul. Iraqi Red Crescent staff and volunteers are at work in the camps, where they are providing food, relief supplies and psychosocial support to families who have fled Mosul and surrounding towns. Photo: IRCS/ Safin Ahmed

Families have fled Mosul and its surrounding villages together, and are maintaining their community links while they wait until they can safely return to their homes. Photo: Safin Ahmed / Iraqi Red Crescent Society