“On April 20, fighters came to get us and used us as human shields,” Sarah’s father explains. “Sarah and I were taken to a room in what looked like a deserted house. Suddenly there was a big explosion. I didn’t know whether it came from a tank or aircraft. All I can remember is the pain and the blood. I got an eye wound and Sarah was injured in the leg.
Sarah and her father were first taken to Mosul General Hospital, where she had surgery due to a fracture in her leg. “We fled the city as soon as we could,” he says. “We passed by three different hospitals before we came here.”
Today, Handicap International teams in Iraq are providing support to Sarah through rehabilitation care at Hamdanyiah Hospital. Salam, a physical therapist with Handicap International visits her regularly to help aid in her recovery.
When Salam arrives at Sarah’s hospital room, he sees her dozing, stretched out on her bed. The doctors are helping manage the dull pain in her leg with medication. Her father stands by her side throughout the physical therapy session and patiently urges her to do her best.
The father and former English teacher tells our team about their plans for the future. “We’re going back to Mosul once my daughter has fully recovered. We left our entire lives behind, not just our home. Almost none of the children have been to school since 2014, including Sarah.
"When the schools reopen, I want to start teaching again. It’s really important, both for me and our children’s future. Sarah’s really bright and loves to draw and learn. I want to do everything I can to make sure what’s happened to us never happens again.”
Mosul emergency: Fighting between armed groups and government forces in Iraq in recent years has displaced more than three million people. An estimated 11 million civilians already need humanitarian assistance in the country. The Mosul offensive has presented international organizations with an unprecedented challenge. More than 485,000 people have fled the city since last October.
Handicap International and the Iraqi crisis: More than 200,000 people have benefited from Handicap International’s actions since the launch of its emergency operations in Iraq in 2014. Our actions are regularly reviewed to take into account a highly volatile situation across the whole of Iraqi territory. Handicap International currently organizes population protection activities, raises awareness of the risk from mines and conventional weapons, conducts non-technical surveys and clears potentially hazardous areas, provides physical and functional rehabilitation and psychosocial support, supports health centers, organizes training and advocacy, and provides technical support to partners to enhance the inclusion of vulnerable people (people with disabilities, casualties, older people, and others) within their services.