Arbel, Iraq (AINA) -- The city of Ankawa has received the largest number of refugees, 70,000, mostly Assyrians. Ankawa, an Assyrian city north of Arbel, has opened its arms to the refugees and provided shelter and food. All of the religious and civic institutions are over capacity and are working day and night to service the refugees, who are sleeping in streets, fields and courtyards and who are under extreme hardship.
There are now at least 5 refugees dying daily.
200,000 Assyrians fled from their homes when ISIS moved into their towns and villages, including Baghdede, Bartella, Karamles, and dozens of villages in the Nineveh Plain north of Mosul. The Assyrians fled north to Dohuk (Assyrian Noohadra) and east to Ankawa and Arbel.
A group of 300 families recently moved from an open field into a large shopping mall in Arbel, where several rooms were made available by the owner of the mall.
Ankawa.com visited these families at the Nastaman mall, located near Arbel's citadel in the city center. The top floor of the structure has been made available for the displaced families. Ms. Luisa Garmo, president of Vian Economic Development, is in charge of providing for the families. A refugee said "We fled from the specter of death, fearing for our lives from the terrorists (ISIS), which seized our areas. We left our homes, belongings and property and we came to Ankawa and because of the difficult conditions and large numbers of displaced families in the city we came to this building in Arbel. We were living in a state of hunger and destitution and suffering from the difficult conditions, lacking mattresses, blankets, medicines and clean water and other necessities. Nothing reached us and we stayed here, forgotten."
An elderly woman said "We have been in this building more than a week and we thank the owner of the building for sheltering us. The building is well aired. But there is no aid reaching us. We are suffering from a shortage of drinking water, food, medicine and milk for children. Despite what we are going through, government and local authorities and humanitarian organizations have not bothered to visit us or worked to alleviate our suffering."
An elderly man said "I am in desperate need of treatment because I suffer from diabetes and high blood pressure." According to Ms.Garmo, there is urgent need for aid:
There are 300 families, 1,200 individuals, in this mall. They came to Ankawa and slept in parks and streets, but they could not bear it. After a businessman offered them to take shelter on the top floor of his mall, they moved in. They were forgotten by local and international organizations and no relief aid reached them. After communicating with the good people and the churches we were able to provide simple medical aid and find doctors to help them. Among them are two children sick with Thalassemia. There are some who must be admitted to the hospital because their condition is dire, and we urgently need to open a medical clinic inside this building to provide for the patients and control diseases. We appeal to the Minister of Health in the government of the province to adopt these patients for treatment.
Some families have babies who are in need of milk, diapers and wipes and other supplies. These families are also suffering from a shortage of drinking water and are suffering many ailments because of this.
Ms. Garmo called on all international humanitarian organizations, charities, local authorities and the Churches to assist in relief of these families and urgently alleviate their suffering.