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“I buried her with my own hands”


Hanan comes from Salah al-Din, one of the southern Iraqi provinces invaded by ISIS.

She arrived at the Ashti refugee camp with almost all her family. Almost all, because there’s someone she didn’t manage to bring with her. Almost all, because when she fled through her back garden with her children, she would have needed eyes in the back of her head to prevent what happened.

The way she remembers it, everything happened instantly.

Hanan was running. She turned to make sure she had all her children: five boys and two little twin girls. She was running because soldiers had got into the house and were shooting at anything that moved. As she ran, she realised the numbers didn’t add up, but she didn’t have time to think.

It only took a second, though, to realise she’d have to leave her daughter’s body behind in order to save the other children from the frenzy.

She tells us how, ten days later, a soldier from the Iraqi forces managed to get in touch with Hanan’s family and send them her daughter’s body. ‘I buried her with my own hands,’ she says, miming digging with a spade.

Now Hanan works with us, as a cleaner in our clinic in the Ashti camp. This work is helping her find a new outlook on life.

— Alessandro, EMERGENCY Nurse