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Life is no different for Refugees who fled Islamic State Terrorist Group, Trail of Ghastly Trauma Continues

Across this camp of more than 30,000 displaced people, families had stories of ruined relationships and lives, property destroyed and ghastly trauma

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At this camp about 50 kilometers away from the nearest fighting, families say they fled Islamic State militants sometimes several times, and when they arrive at camps like this, there is a long wait for shelter in Iraqi Kurdistan, Oct. 20, 2016. VOA

Without prompting, 10-year-old Maha rattled off her story as if she had told it several times before: Her father is in jail now, she said, after he was attacked by Islamic State fighters and later accused of joining them.

“He was beaten so bad he couldn’t walk,” she said to anyone who would listen.

Across this camp of more than 30,000 displaced people, families had stories of ruined relationships and lives, property destroyed and ghastly trauma.

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On Thursday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said forces are moving faster than expected toward Mosul, where Islamic State (IS) militants have been in control of the country’s second-largest city for more than two years.

Already short of food, clean water and medical care, camps surrounding the Islamic State controlled areas are bracing for a wave of people that could turn this humanitarian crisis into a humanitarian disaster, in Iraqi Kurdistan, Oct. 20, 2016. VOA
Already short of food, clean water and medical care, camps surrounding the Islamic State controlled areas are bracing for a wave of people that could turn this humanitarian crisis into a humanitarian disaster, in Iraqi Kurdistan, Oct. 20, 2016. VOA

Despite fears that a million more people may soon flee the city, cracking an already strained aid system, displaced families here said, for them, the final battle cannot come soon enough.

“We hear from the people we know still in Mosul, that they just want Islamic State militants to be gone at any cost,” said Umar, a former autoworker who went back into IS territory when the militant group demanded that residents working out of town return or their families would be killed. He gathered his children and fled.

“They are ready for the militants to get out, at any cost,” he repeated, about ridding Mosul of IS.

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Layla, a mother of three, has been living at the camp for three months. Her two daughters, ages 15 and 16, are being held by IS after they were kidnapped, and her son, accused of being an IS member, is in prison.

“When Mosul is free, I will go on camera and tell everything,” she said.

Without any natural shelter, the sweltering summer will soon turn into a cold winter and aid workers say they don’t have enough housing for the expected influx into the region of approximately one million people, in Iraqi Kurdistan, Oct. 20, 2016. VOA
Without any natural shelter, the sweltering summer will soon turn into a cold winter and aid workers say they don’t have enough housing for the expected influx into the region of approximately one million people, in Iraqi Kurdistan, Oct. 20, 2016. VOA

Unprepared

The Debaga camps, about 50 kilometers from the nearest battleground, are filled to capacity, said Rzgar Abed, a senior manager with the Barzani Charity Foundation at the camps.

The displaced keep coming, Abed said, and the camps are not prepared to handle a large influx of traumatized, desperate people. Many wait days, or even a week, just to get a tent or a mattress after they arrive, he added.

However, delaying the rush of people by leaving IS in place would be worse than the looming crisis, he said.

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“As long as the operations drag on, there will be more displaced families,” Abed said. “Winter is soon coming, and it will be a big problem. We can’t provide homes for all of them.”

His organization and others are scrambling to get funding for emergency camps, he added.

“The Mosul campaign, in a worst-case scenario, is expected to be the largest and most complex humanitarian operation in the world in 2016 due to mass forced displacement of people fleeing military operations,” the International Organization for Migration said on its website Thursday.

Over the next 45 days, the organization is planning on overseeing the building of 7,500 plots to house displaced families. Initially, these structures will only offer the most basic services, such as shelter, water and sanitation, the organization said.

Children here readily describe horrors, like loved ones being kidnapped or beaten by IS and later being arrested and imprisoned in suspicion of supporting the group by the militants’ enemies in Iraqi Kurdistan, Oct. 20, 2016. VOA
Children here readily describe horrors, like loved ones being kidnapped or beaten by IS and later being arrested and imprisoned in suspicion of supporting the group by the militants’ enemies in Iraqi Kurdistan, Oct. 20, 2016. VOA

But with no where left to run, residents of the camp insist the only way out of the disaster is not more aid, but for IS militants to be defeated.

Outside an old schoolhouse, now packed with newly arrived women and children, 27-year-old Ibrahim explained that for families like his, there will never be a resolution.

His 19-year-old brother joined the IS militants for reasons he didn’t understand and later threatened to kill his family. Their father was livid, shouting at his son for even considered joining the group.

“If he is killed in the battle, I will cry,” Ibrahim said. “But he went willingly.” (VOA)

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2,648 illegal Migrants detained in Turkey

According to an official statement by Turkish General Staff , Turkish border guards rounded up 1,632 migrants attempting to illegally enter Turkey from Syria

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Turkey launches nationwide operation to detain illegal migrants (representative image) Pixabay

Turkey, November 9, 2017: A total of 2,648 undocumented migrants were detained in nationwide operations across Turkey, security force said on Wednesday.

Turkish border guards rounded up 1,632 migrants attempting to illegally enter Turkey from Syria, the Turkish General Staff said in a statement, Xinhua reported.

Some 171 undocumented migrants were found attempting to cross Turkey-Greece border illegally, according to the statement.

Another 575 migrants trying to illegally enter Greece and Bulgaria were held in northwestern Edirne province, a security official told state-run Anadolu Agency.

Gendarmerie caught 126 migrants, including 104 Afghan and 22 Pakistani nationals, from a bus at a checkpoint in Turkey’s central province of Sivas.

During another operation in northern Kastamonu province, security forces stopped an Istanbul-bound bus and held 121 migrants, including Pakistanis, Afghans and Senegalese. (IANS)

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US Backtracks on Iraqi, Kurd Cease-fire Claim

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An Iraqi soldier removes a Kurdish flag from Altun Kupri
An Iraqi soldier removes a Kurdish flag from Altun Kupri on the outskirts of Irbil, Iraq. VOA

Iraq, October 27: The U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State announced Friday morning a cease-fire between Iraqi forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga in Northern Iraq but quickly backtracked on the claim, saying it is not an “official” cease-fire.

Army spokesman Ryan Dillon posted a clarification on Twitter to say “both parties (are) talking with one another,” but that a “cease-fire” had not been reached.

The Iraqi military and the Kurdish minority have been clashing for several weeks after the Iraqi troops moved to secure areas in northern Iraq that had been seized from IS jihadists by Kurdish forces. The Kurdish forces abandoned the land largely without resistance, though low-level clashes have been reported.

Iraqi PM rejects Kurdish offer

The areas Iraqi forces are moving into were mostly under Baghdad’s control in 2014, when Islamic State militants swept into the region. Kurdish Peshmerga and coalition forces recaptured the lands, and the Kurdistan Region has since held them.

The Iraqi leadership said it is retaking the areas to establish federal authority after a Kurdish referendum for independence in September threatened the nation’s unity. More than 92 percent of Kurds in Iraq voted “yes” in a vote Baghdad called illegal, and the international community leaders said was dangerous and ill-timed.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Thursday rejected an offer by Kurdish leaders to freeze the results of their independence referendum in favor of dialogue in order to avoid further conflict.

The Kurdistan Regional Government, in a statement, said the confrontations have hurt both sides and could lead to ongoing bloodshed and social unrest in Iraq.

“Certainly, continued fighting does not lead any side to victory, but it will drive the country towards disarray and chaos, affecting all aspects of life,” the KRG said.

‘Unified Iraq is the only way to go’

Abadi said in a statement his government will accept only the annulment of the referendum and respect for the constitution.

During a briefing Friday morning at the Pentagon, Joint Staff Director Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie Jr. told reporters the U.S. believes “a unified Iraq is the only way to go forward.”

He added, “We’re not helping anyone attack anyone else inside Iraq, either the Kurds or the Iraqis.”(VOA)

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Indians Missing in Mosul: V.K. Singh in Iraq to Co-ordinate Search Opertion

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V.K Singh will co-ordinate search operation for 39 Indian
V.K Singh will co-ordinate search operation for 39 Indians who went Missing in Mosul. IANS

New Delhi, October 27: After the government sought DNA samples from the next of kin of the 39 Indians Missing in Mosul, Iraq three years ago, Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh is again visiting the country to seek an update.

External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveeh Kumar said on Friday that Singh’s visit “is to talk to people”.

“He has met a range of people in Iraq. And also to get an update on the 39 missing Indians in Iraq,” Kumar said in his weekly media briefing here.

He said that on Thursday Singh was in Mosul city where the Indians went missing.

Last week, the families of the 39 Indians were asked to provide their DNA samples but no reason was provided, the kin said.

It was in June 2014 that the 39 Indians, mostly from Punjab, went missing in Mosul town when it was overrun by the Islamic State. Their families continue to hope the men are alive but also fear the worst.

Singh had visited Iraq in July too in this connection.(IANS)