The horrors of war

The war against ISIS in Iraq saw some of the most intense urban fighting since the Second World War. This is according to US officials. For those on the ground, the horrors must have been unimaginable. We recently visited a trauma centre in the village of Alqosh. This centre serves a wide region including villages captured by ISIS. It has a particular focus on children. The trauma counsellors and therapists visit schools throughout the area. They work with children of all ages who have witnessed inhumanity which has caused them lasting psychological damage.

Children in the caliphate were often forced to watch gruesome public executions. People were beheaded, burned alive and crucified in the streets. One newspaper reported that ISIS captives were lowered into vats of nitric acid. Shortly after Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasasbeh was captured he was burned alive inside a cage. This execution was broadcast on big screens in public squares where children were forced to watch. Despite this, many will not seek help for the trauma they feel.

Overcoming the stigma of trauma

One of the counsellors we spoke with in Alqosh told us that people with mental health issues, even victims of ISIS, are stigmatised: “If a person is suffering they will not talk about anything – if he talks about his personal issues, people around him will think he is crazy.” For children, the trauma is particularly bad as it scars them at an impressionable age. Some trauma specialists in Iraq have reported that children are both terrified and fascinated by the atrocities they have seen, even mimicking knife-wielding executioners with sticks and threatening to behead members of their own family.

We want to raise funds for the trauma centre in Alqosh because we can see how vital the work is. Art therapy, music, dance and resilience workshops are offered to the children. Shockingly, such centres are not funded directly by the Iraqi government. If you would like to support this initiative, or any of our other projects, please see the giving options below.

Voices of Iraq

As some of you will know, we premiered our new film, Voices of Iraq, at Westminster Abbey last month. We are now offering screenings of the film in support of our Nineveh SEED programme. Please contact us if you would like to show the film – admin@frrme.org / 01730 267 673.

Supporting our work in the Middle East

To make a donation now visit the donate page on our website (there are numerous options for how to donate). Or you can send us a cheque made out to ‘FRRME’ to: FRRME, PO Box 229, Petersfield, Hants, GU32 9DL, United Kingdom. To support our future work, please consider leaving a legacy (more info about that here). Thank you!