Saturday, 17 December 2016

Refugees at Hassam camp recall bitter experiences

Refugees at Hassam camp recall bitter experiences

12-17-2016 10:23 BJT

Thousands of survivors from the battle against ISIL in the besieged city of Mosul have fled to a refugee camp. An official at the camp says many of the refugees are suffering mental trauma, but there are only 12 psychologists available to help them.

It’s wet, windy and bitterly cold. But people here are thankful to be alive.

This is the Hassam refugee camp, home to thousands who have fled the fighting in nearby Mosul between the Iraqi army and the terror group known as ISIL.

For over two years, these people lived under ISIL’s rule. They describe a life of harsh religious edicts, deprivations and a constant fear that you or a loved one could be killed at any moment.

Mahmoud Ahmed was a mechanic in Mosul. ISIL fighters accused him of being a spy. He was taken to an ISIL center and tortured for two days.

"One day they came with pliers and tried to take my teeth out. But they just broke my teeth. All the time they kept asking me what I was doing. I can’t believe I’m alive," he said.

ISIL maintained order in Mosul by a steady stream of public executions and amputations for those accused of thievery, says this man.

Those caring for the refugees say many are suffering mental trauma, a result of life under the group.

"These people have been traumatized, so the problem here is psychological problem. These people have seen the effects of ISIS, slaughtering and the killing will have a really long term effect and mentality of the people. Especially children. We have seen a lot of children playing here and they create a man out of the mud and then they slaughter the man," said Saidiq Muhamed Sala, Hassam refugee camp director.

For the thousands of displaced people, they are only around 12 psychologists available to help the people.

The woman who calls herself Mother of Rahil fled Mosul two weeks ago. She tells us how her son-in-law was killed by ISIL, gunned down for being a policeman. He was shot in front of her daughter and grandchild.

As we interview her, her telephone rings.

It’s her daughter and granddaughter still trapped in Mosul.

At first, it’s joy to hear her loved ones. Then panic sets in: they tell her an ISIL sniper is outside their home threatening to shoot them if they leave.

She can only hope that her family will soon join her in the cold and windy camp, free from the war and terror of life in Mosul.

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