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Map of Displacement – Explore the six largest displacement events and the stories of people who have fled the violence seeking refuge in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
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KURDISTANREGION OF IRAQKurdish controlledterritory SINJARMASSACRE NINEVEH ETHNICCLEANSING IRAQI ARMYOFFENSIVES THE FALL OF RAMADI THE FALL OF FALLUJAH BAGHDAD THE FALL OF MOSUL Fallujah Tel Kaif Kirkuk Sadiyah Darbandikhan Fallujah Ramadi Shaqlawa Muqdaidyah Tikrit Shirqat Mosul Laylan Fallujah Tel Kaif Kirkuk Sinjar Sulaymaniyah Sinjar Tanjaro Sinjar Sitak Sinjar Zakho Al Qosh Erbil Bartella Chamchamal Muqdaidyah Tikrit Shirqat Laylan Jar Allah Dibaga Tikrit Khalakan Fallujah Ramadi Shaqlawa IRAQ SAUDI ARABIA TURKEY IRAN EGYPT SYRIA JORDAN AZERBAIJAN GEORGIA ARMENIA CYPRUS ISRAEL KUWAIT LEBANON RUSSIA BAKU TEHRAN BAGHDAD AMMAN DAMASCUS ANKARA

Map of Displacement


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Since January 2014, Iraq’s war against ISIS has displaced over a tenth of the country’s population.

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One and a half million Iraqis have fled to the relative safety of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.


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Explore the six largest displacement events and the stories of people who have fled the violence seeking refuge in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.


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Kurdistan
Region of Iraq


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The Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) is an autonomous region in the north of the country. The KRI is home to approximately five million Kurds and is officially governed by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). It has its own parliament, army (Peshmerga), and internal security (Asayish). In 2014, during the war with ISIS, the Peshmerga took control of disputed territories including large part of the governorate of Kirkuk along with several cities in Nineveh plains and Diyala province.

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JANUARY 4th, 2014

THE FALL OF FALLUJAH


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On January 4th, 2014, ISIS and other Sunni insurgents capture Fallujah after several days of fighting which leaves more than a thousand dead. By March 2014, 380,000 people have fled the area, with 60,000 going as far as the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

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JUNE 9th, 2014

THE FALL OF MOSUL

On June 9th, 2014, ISIS insurgents overrun Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq. The Sunni militants seize control of government offices, the airport, and police stations. More than half a million people flee Mosul in a matter of hours. The fall of Mosul destabilizes Iraq, triggering a series of mass displacements across the country.

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AUGUST 3rd, 2014

SINJAR MASSACRE

On the morning of August 3rd, 2014, ISIS attacks the city of Sinjar and begins to massacre the inhabitants, most of them from the Yazidi religious minority. Over the following days, ISIS slaughters more than 5,000 people and an additional 5,000 are enslaved. 200,000 people manage to escape.

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AUGUST 7th, 2014

NINEVEH ETHNIC CLEANSING

On August 7th, 2014, ISIS overruns Qaraqosh, the largest Christian city in the Ninevah plains, and starts a fierce operation of ethnic cleansing. Most of the people belonging to ethnic and religious minorities flee to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

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JULY 2014

IRAQI ARMY OFFENSIVES

From July 2014 to April 2015, the Iraqi Army, along with large Shia militias, conduct an offensive against ISIS in Diyala, Mosul and Tikrit. Tens of thousands of civilians are caught in the crossfire and flee.

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MAY 14th, 2015

THE FALL OF RAMADI

The battle for Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, draws to a disastrous close when ISIS insurgents seize control of government buildings on May 14th, 2015. Three days later, the Iraqi Army flees the city leaving more than 500 civilians and security personal dead. The hostilities displace more 180,000 people from Ramadi.

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View stories in timeline

1 JANUARY 4th, 2014

THE FALL OF FALLUJAH

On January 4th, 2014, ISIS and other Sunni insurgents capture Fallujah after several days of fighting which leaves more than a thousand dead. By March 2014, 380,000 people have fled the area, with 60,000 going as far as the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

TWO RELIGIONS ONE ROOF


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Maysun Yalda and Widad Fadill sit opposite each other, sipping tea under a brightly coloured rug. “It’s Jesus,” says Maysun, pointing towards the male figure sewn into the heavy tapestry hanging from her kitchen wall. 44-year-old Maysun is a Christian from Tel Kaif in Nineveh, some 400km north of 47-year-old Widad’s hometown of Fallujah in Anbar, a Sunni stronghold.

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YEARS OF WANDERING IN THE LAND OF IRAQ

When the Americans came so did al-Qaeda waving the banner of religion. They made a few military operations against the Americans to gain people’s trust and support, but then started slaughtering them. Either you supported them or they killed you. Meanwhile, they wore shorts in the evening and played sports with the Americans to convince them that they were not terrorists.

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380,000

By March 2014, 380,000 Iraqis are internally displaced. The majority of them flee Fallujah and Ramadi where the Iraqi Army is battling Sunni insurgents.

SHAQLUJA

The Kurds in northern Iraq were suffering under the burden of a long frontier war with the Islamic State (ISIS), a financial crisis and the arrival of more than one million people displaced by war, altering the ethnic balance of their proto state. Shaqlawa, once a popular holiday destination had become a shelter for thousands of Iraqi Arabs fleeing the grinding war further south who now outnumbered the local Kurdish population.

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2 JUNE 9th, 2014

THE FALL OF MOSUL

On June 9th, 2014, ISIS insurgents overrun Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq. The Sunni militants seize control of government offices, the airport, and police stations. More than half a million people flee Mosul in a matter of hours. The fall of Mosul destabilizes Iraq, triggering a series of mass displacements across the country.

STRANDED LIVES

In the camp one morning a plane passes overhead and Awatif, Adam’s wife looks up with a start. Marwan doesn’t hear the noise and continues to cut hair in his make shift shop. For Sulaiman returning home seems a long way off after news of the killings. Stuck between different factions in Iraq and trailed with suspicion, Adam, Marwan and Sulaiman must build their lives again at edge of Kirkuk.

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TWO RELIGIONS ONE ROOF

Maysun Yalda and Widad Fadill sit opposite each other, sipping tea under a brightly coloured rug. “It’s Jesus,” says Maysun, pointing towards the male figure sewn into the heavy tapestry hanging from her kitchen wall. 44-year-old Maysun is a Christian from Tel Kaif in Nineveh, some 400km north of 47-year-old Widad’s hometown of Fallujah in Anbar, a Sunni stronghold.

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2:30 AM

At 2:30 in the morning on June 4th, ISIS insurgents blast through Iraqi Army checkpoints and enter the city of Mosul. Soldiers and policemen flee their positions across the city shedding their weapons and uniforms in an attempt to blend in with the local population. Those who are captured are hanged, burned alive, or publicly crucified.

3 AUGUST 3rd, 2014

SINJAR MASSACRE

On the morning of August 3rd, 2014, ISIS attacks the city of Sinjar and begins to massacre the inhabitants, most of them from the Yazidi religious minority. Over the following days, ISIS slaughters more than 5,000 people and an additional 5,000 are enslaved. 200,000 people manage to escape.

GRAND BAGHDAD HOTEL

I can’t remember my experience in the Grand Baghdad Hotel just by merely thinking of the name because this place looks nothing like a hotel nor does it have anything to do with the glamorous name it bears. Instead, I think of the charming film The Grand Budapest Hotel where cinema beautifies tragedy and where protagonists die smiling or in the middle of a romantic kiss.

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OIL AND BLOOD

Zaidoon’s seventeen year-old cousin, Jamal, darts through the refinery’s enormous storage drums. He is trying to fill a jerry can with gasoline for one of the truck drivers who’s pulled up in an empty tanker. Jamal runs over to the huge drum that holds the gasoline and throws open the spigot at the bottom. A jet of black liquid shoots out which then turns clear. Jamal cups his hand and catches some of it, bringing it up to his face as if he’s about to take a sip.

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5,000

According to a UN report, ISIS takes 5,000 Yazidi women captive in August 2014 and sells them into slavery and sexual servitude.

50,000

After ISIS overruns the city of Sinjar, 50,000 Yazidi flee to the mountain north of the city. They remain stranded there for over a week with almost no food and water in 50°C heat.

THE EXEMPLARY SCHOOL OF SITAK

Isn’t this the story of every mosque, house and city in the Middle East? A mosque is built over the ruins of a church which has been built over the ruins of a synagogue which has been built on the ruins of an ancient temple; and someone comes to ruin it all over again. Ruins inherit ruins, and generations follow generations. They rise from the ashes and restore everything, a long feverish struggle for survival. We cannot call it a war because it isn’t, regardless of the fact that we are all fighting for a dream.

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ESCAPED

On August 3rd 2014, ISIS insurgents attacked the northern Iraqi city of Sinjar in an attempt to expand their so-called ‘caliphate.’ During the weeks following the fall of the city, the Sunni militants who see the Yazidi people as devil worshippers carried out a genocidal campaign, killing tens of thousands of people and kidnapping over 5,000 women who they later sold into sexual slavery.

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4 AUGUST 7th, 2014

NINEVEH ETHNIC CLEANSING

On August 7th, 2014, ISIS overruns Qaraqosh, the largest Christian city in the Ninevah plains, and starts a fierce operation of ethnic cleansing. Most of the people belonging to ethnic and religious minorities flee to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

THE ORPHANS OF ALQOSH

One evening late in the summer of 2014 people from five villages in the province of Nineveh streamed onto the roads along with the orphans from Alqosh. Between their cars and ISIS stood only burning pyres of rubbish and an emptying no man’s land. Milad Hani, 9, and his brother Wissam, 11, were part of the exodus.

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THE SHABAK

The air is thick with dust and the smell of sewage in Chermo camp where a cluster of prefabricated cabins house 196 members of the Shabak minority. Brittle fencing draped in freshly-washed clothes separates the makeshift homes from a busy highway; a linear strip of hot tarmac that runs from the town of Chamchamal to the city of Sulaymaniyah in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The barren piece of land was lent to the families cost-free by a wealthy Kurdish tribe.

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100,000

In August 2014, ISIS fighters capture the Christian towns of Qaraqosh, Tel Kaif, Bartella, and Karamles in the Nineveh plains forcing 100,000 people to flee.

5 JULY 2014

IRAQI ARMY OFFENSIVES

From July 2014 to April 2015, the Iraqi Army, along with large Shia militias, conduct an offensive against ISIS in Diyala, Mosul and Tikrit. Tens of thousands of civilians are caught in the crossfire and flee.

THE BUTCHER OF KHALAKAN

Thirteen year-old Ali fled the violence in Salahaddin and found refuge in the remote Kurdish village of Khalakan where he works as a butcher.

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AT THE CHICKEN FARM

The chicken farm stands amid an expanse of wheat fields at the end of a long dirt road several kilometers from the nearest village. It was lush and green when the 47 Sunni Arab families from Jarallah arrived and the ripening wheat stalks rippled in the wind. Now the harvest is over and the parched golden stubble gives up clouds of dust when the wind blows.

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30,000

On March 2nd, 2015 the Iraqi military—along with a coalition of American, British, and Iranian forces—launches an offensive to retake the city of Tikrit from ISIS insurgents. In the first four days of fighting, 30,000 people are displaced.

STRANDED LIVES

In the camp one morning a plane passes overhead and Awatif, Adam’s wife looks up with a start. Marwan doesn’t hear the noise and continues to cut hair in his make shift shop. For Sulaiman returning home seems a long way off after news of the killings. Stuck between different factions in Iraq and trailed with suspicion, Adam, Marwan and Sulaiman must build their lives again at edge of Kirkuk.

Read the story

6 MAY 14th, 2015

THE FALL OF RAMADI

The battle for Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, draws to a disastrous close when ISIS insurgents seize control of government buildings on May 14th, 2015. Three days later, the Iraqi Army flees the city leaving more than 500 civilians and security personal dead. The hostilities displace more 180,000 people from Ramadi.

SHAQLUJA

The Kurds in northern Iraq were suffering under the burden of a long frontier war with the Islamic State (ISIS), a financial crisis and the arrival of more than one million people displaced by war, altering the ethnic balance of their proto state. Shaqlawa, once a popular holiday destination had become a shelter for thousands of Iraqi Arabs fleeing the grinding war further south who now outnumbered the local Kurdish population.

Read the story

450,000

The ISIS campaign to take Ramadi in May 2015 forces 180,000 people from their homes, bringing the total number of displaced people in Anbar province to 450,000.

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