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Published On: Thu, Jan 26th, 2017

Iraq: Mosul survivor Hala Jaber confirms a Islamic State finding a cell phone could mean death

The markets are almost empty of fresh produce and what is available is extremely expensive. People are relying on wood for both cooking and heating, because of the high cost of kerosene, which is now selling at USD 95 per 20 liters.

Each neighborhood receives water once a week at different times to fill up their tanks, but this is not enough. “People have dug wells in their yards or back gardens to get water, even if it is dirty. Gas cylinders used for cooking are scare or massively expensive, so many people are using wood to cook,” Farah explained.

Yesterday reports to IOM from inside Mosul’s western sector spoke of damage caused to the power and water supply lines, resulting in both services being cut, including to the emergency services.

“This is terrifying us, as it spells a looming disaster with an unprecedented humanitarian crisis,” said the source, who smuggled a message out.

To avenge the retaking of East Mosul, ISIL in the last few days have also destroyed the two main water stations, which supply more than 75 percent of East Mosul.

The homes of those who left the west to stay with relatives in the east, at the onset of the military operation, have been confiscated by ISIL, according to the same source from inside the city.

With cash flow dwindling amongst residents, “some families are bordering on starvation,” Farah noted.

Cancer patients, those needing dialysis and those with acute diabetics are all unable to access clinics and hospitals. There is also a severe shortage of medicines.

“We know of diabetic patients who suffered heart attacks and died from the increase in their blood sugar levels. Others died from lack of medicines needed for chronic illnesses,” Farah said quietly.

“Movement is restricted as a result of the bombings and those dying are simply being temporarily buried in their back gardens,” she added, looking at Khaled.

The nights, she said, were the most terrifying. Going  to bed and trying to sleep, not knowing if the family would survive or be found buried under the rubble the following morning.

“At night we yearned for morning to ensure we were still alive. With the stillness of the night we could hear the whizz of every bullet and the thunderous roar of each rocket or boom of a missile. We could even hear the clear shouts coming from ISIL militants at as they fired a rocket, realizing they were hidden in the alleyways of our neighborhoods, endangering all of us.  It was terrifying,” Farah said.

One morning two weeks ago, Farah joined others from her neighborhood to escape the area. She made it to safety after walking for nearly eight hours. A few days later, Iraqi military special forces took that part of Eastern Mosul.

Farah was one of the lucky ones who made it out alive and was reunited with her husband. Many others are being held as human shields by ISIL and snipers are shooting at anyone caught fleeing.

In Hay al-Zuhoor, Mohammed and his wife, another couple who escaped, were smiling as they bought a bag full of bananas, tomatoes and oranges, produce they said they had not been able to purchase in the last few months.

Mohammed, was feeling double fortunate last week when IOM met him. Not only had his neighborhood been freed by the Iraqi military, but he had survived 14 months in an underground ISIL prison with five children, sentenced to death, merely for having been a policeman.

He spoke of seeing men, women and children imprisoned, beaten and tortured in jail.

He was freed when his area was taken by Iraqi troops last week. “We saw things we have never seen before and hopefully won’t ever see again,” he said.

“Our sadness for what this beautiful city endured is not only limited to those who lost their lives. A lot of it is also for the city known for its 3000 years of civilization and now destroyed,” Farah said.

For Khaled, the joy of reuniting with his wife Farah is tinged with bitter sweet memories of the loved ones now buried in his father’s garden, and for two nephews who survived, but continue to be trapped under ISIL in West Mosul.

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