More than 84,000 Iraqis left their possessions, businesses and schools to live without shelter in 115-degree desert heat and sandstorms as ISIS assaulted Fallujah.
ISIS forces controlling Fallujah defended their siege with bullets, bombs and children as coalition backed Iraqi forces fought to regain the city. The Islamic extremists used the estimated 20,000 Iraqi children trapped in the city as human shields, according to the United Nations.
The coalition-backed Iraqi forces stopped their battle to take back Fallujah in June because of the risk to the children and an estimated 30,000 adults. But by late June, the Iraqi government had driven ISIS from Fallujah, which is 40 miles west of Baghdad.
Aid agencies struggled to assist refugee families and now will focus on assisting them as they return to their war-torn city to rebuild their lives. Some fear that Fallujah will not get the attention it needs as the government turns its attention to driving ISIS out of Mosul.
Human needs across Iraq continue to challenge the government and aid agencies, but breakthroughs are happening. The Pope recently designated $110,000 of Catholic aid money for a medical clinic in Erbil in the region of Kurdistan, where thousands of Christian refugees have gone to flee ISIS.
“Men and women need the mercy of God, but also our own mercy,” Pope Francis said. “We need to hold each other’s hands, caress each other, and take care of one another, instead of waging so many wars.”
Pray for peace in Iraq and the stabilization of its families.
NBC: U.N Warns 20,000 Children Are Trapped in Fallujah as Iraq Battles to Oust ISIS
Daily Mail: Battle for Fallujah stalls as ISIS fighters using 20,000 children as human shields put up fierce resistance in the Iraqi city