First Exit Route Opens in Fallujah as Thousands Flee

Thousands of families are beginning to flee Fallujah. Sunday, the Iraqi army announced it had secured the first safe exit route out of the city. Up till now, families trying to escape have had to risk sniper fire and landmines planted by ISIS. The militants continue to hold thousands of civilians inside Fallujah.

Meanwhile, displacement camps are stretched beyond the breaking point as families seek refuge in the blistering desert. So far, you’ve helped provide food for more than 12,000 people—in many cases, it’s the first or only aid they’ve received. Your ongoing support allows us to continue showing up with lifesaving aid.

Here’s the latest from Fallujah…

Camps struggling to cope

More than 1,000 new families have arrived at displacement camps west of Fallujah in recent days. That number is growing daily. Existing camps are overwhelmed; at least four new ones are being set up, just to cope with the influx of refugees.

Many in these camps lack basic services like electricity, even as daytime temperatures soar past 110 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius). The camps consist almost entirely of women and children. Almost all the men—husbands, fathers, brothers—are detained for security screening to make sure they have no affiliation with ISIS. This process is causing families to be separated from one another—in some cases, for weeks.

Food remains the most critical need in nearly every camp. Many displaced families have only received a couple days’ worth of rations—if that. It could be weeks or months before they’re able to return home, which is why we’re providing the families we serve with much longer-lasting supplies of food.

Growing fears of sectarian violence

Meanwhile, fears are growing of sectarian violence—torture, inhumane treatment, and reprisal killings. One of the groups affiliated with the Popular Mobilization Forces (the mainly Shia militias who are participating in the battle for Fallujah) recently gave the Sunni population until tomorrow, June 14, to leave the city—as if Fallujans themselves are in control of their ease of exit. The Iraqi military has managed to open one humanitarian corridor, but thousands remain trapped in Fallujah.

You continue to respond

While many choose fear over love, you keep going the other way. You keep showing up for the people of Fallujah.

Last week, we returned to the camp at Amiriyat al-Fallujah to address critical sanitation and hygiene needs. This effort, made possible by our friends at World Help, included:

  • 8,000 bars of Sisterhood Soap, made by refugees in Iraq, now helping to protect their fellow Iraqis from waterborne disease.
  • 1,000 hygiene kits—containing lice shampoo, washing powder, disinfectant, and more
  • Cleaning materials purchased inside Iraq to strengthen the local economy while helping refugees

Over the weekend, we prepared another aid delivery for those who on the run from ISIS—another 50,000 pounds of food for 500 new families from Fallujah. This is our fourth distribution since the crisis began, with yet another planned for Tuesday.

Right now, because of you, we’re the largest provider of food for starving, newly liberated Fallujans. Thank you for going to the hard places with us. Please continue to stand with the children and families of Fallujah.  

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