Middle East

Islamic State crisis: Nothing left in Anbar for displaced Sunni

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Iraqi government forces have been battling Islamic State fighters in and around Ramadi since January

Fighting between government forces and Islamic State (IS) in Iraq's western province of Anbar has forced 180,000 people to flee since the city of Hit fell to the Sunni jihadist group earlier this month, the United Nations said on Monday.

Among the civilians displaced by the IS advance across Anbar towards Baghdad is 55-year-old Ali Abdullah (not his real name), a Sunni from the provincial capital Ramadi who spoke to the BBC.

"I used to be a solider; I get a pension of US$600 (£375) every two months.

My family and those of my two sons, Mohammed and Ahmed, all lived in the same house in Znkurh, a district of Ramadi.

My sons both worked for the police.

We had to leave after IS members in the area killed Mohammed and bombed our homes.

They had visited my home at the beginning of September and told me that I needed to stop my sons working for the police.

They told me my sons had to repent. They also requested a pistol from each one and threatened to blow up my house if we didn't give them the weapons.

Reprisals

I did all that they asked me to do. My sons resigned from the police and went to some IS members and repented. Also I bought a pistol for each of my sons that cost me about $3,000 (£1,874).

But two days later they bombed my house. No-one was injured and we all left and went to stay with my brother at his house.

Ten days later, IS members came to my brother's house and killed my son. They said he was still working for the police.

Mohammed had a wife and three kids. I am now taking care of them.

The situation in Anbar before IS and the international air strikes wasn't great, but it was better than it is now. You can't even find the basics like fuel. If you do find them, they cost you a lot.

People living in Anbar are scared. People have been displaced and are getting killed, and the sound of explosions fills the air.

No help

There was nothing left for me in Anbar after I lost my son and my home, so we all left.

We are now in Baghdad. One of my friends had a house there that we are staying in.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Security forces personnel are still patrolling areas of Ramadi under their control

When we arrived we went with my other son, Ahmed, to register our names on the list of displaced. But that hasn't helped us and we haven't received any help yet.

Now our lives depend on aid that is given to us by my friends here.

I don't know what we can do next. I can't see any future for my family anymore.

I feel so scared for myself and my family, even here in Baghdad. I can't see an end to this crisis."

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