Fleeing Under The Fog Of War

18/10/2016 12:26

On Monday morning the worlds worst kept military secret, the invasion of Mosul, became even more public as it propelled itself up the news agenda. The long planned for offensive on the ISIS stronghold of Mosul, Iraq's second city, has begun.

Planning for this had been going on for weeks, probably even months. Iraqi government forces were constructing bridges to move heavy equipment and Kurdish forces in the East were openly talking of their plans to take the city.

The complex mix of forces involved highlights the fragile political situation in Iraq since Coalition forces packed their bags and left. Rumours abound of Iranian backed soldiers, Turkish troops, British Special Forces, US Marines and the Kurdish army all fighting the same battle just down the road from Russian and Syrian interests.

Everyone wants to keep the city for themselves and all are old foes.

We could dwell on the complex military nature of the Mosul assault for weeks on end, or even just let the news report on the Trump V Clinton war closer to home. But as we peer through the fog of the military and political wars we see shadows of the helpless stumbling their way past the ISIS laid landmines and snipers.

These dusty, bedraggled, hungry figures are the hundreds of thousands of newly homeless Iraqis. They've spent up to two years under barbaric rule and now is there first, and possibly only chance, to escape.

It's not nessecary to paint a picture of life under ISIS and no words would accurately portray what these traumatised men, women and children have seen. What we know they've seen should haunt us.

So what fate awaits those who flee? As the shapes become people, as we see the eyes that have seen hell, or the mouths that have been cried out with the little left inside them, what will our hearts and hands be ready with?

We've become numb to atrocities. Phrases like 'refugee season' sit alongside our Autumn vocabulary of 'pumpkin spice latte' and 'Trump did what!?'. But we can't allow the fog of war to blind us.

Samaritan's Purse is one such organisation already prepared to meet the needs of those fleeing. They've prepared shelters and supplies for tens of thousands expected to flee.

The UNHCR is well aware of the need and ready to help.

But what about us? The 'safe on our sofa' observers who fumble through trash TV evening after evening, what could we do?

Well a start would be an end to apathy and the acceptance of whatever the media decide is news today.

When you see a headline telling you that another district of Mosul is being shelled, or liberated, ask yourself where you would go should it be happening in your town.

When you see stories of military victories go and read about the fate of civilians stuck in the crossfire.

Search #Mosul on Twitter and read reports from outside your comfort zone. Go research the support Samaritan's Purse and others are giving.

Whatever you do don't let this pass you by.

Hundreds of thousands are on the brink of being added to the 'them pile' we've conveniently placed refugees in.

Don't let them reach that pile. Don't let the fog of war surround you.

Remember to be human. Remember they are too.