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Harit’s long road to recovery

Explosive weapons Supporting the Displaced Populations/Refugees
Iraq

In December 2016, Harith suffered serious leg injuries in a rocket attack, in Mosul. Metal external fixations come out from Harith’s leg, testifying to the severity of his accident.

© E. Fourt / Handicap International

In December 2016, Harith suffered serious leg injuries in a rocket attack, in Mosul. After fleeing the fighting with his family, he is now living in Hasansham camp (Iraqi Kurdistan). | © E. Fourt / Handicap International

“They began bombing our neighbourhood late last year,” explains his father, Younes. “One morning, we tried to flee the city by car but a rocket fell on us. My brother died instantly and my son was seriously injured. Our neighbours rushed us to hospital and we stayed there for a week.”

Harith’s accident marked the beginning of the family’s long ordeal. “When we left the hospital, we returned to an area not far from home, but the following month, there was more bombing, so we had to flee again. We were so scared that we moved from place to place for weeks, in order to avoid the bombing.” They eventually found refuge in the IDP camp in Hasansham, Iraqi Kurdistan, and Harith now lives with ten other family members in a single tent.

“He’s still in pain and finds it hard to walk,” explains Handicap International’s physiotherapist, Mohammad. “My job is to get him back on his feet. This is our third physiotherapy session together.”

Although Harith was injured several months ago, every movement is still a challenge and, despite Mohammad’s encouraging words, the strain shows on the boy’s face. To take his mind off the pain, Diana and Mohammad ask him to do a drawing. The social worker takes out a pencil and a notebook and chats with Harith.

The physiotherapy session comes to an end and Harith puts the finishing touches to his drawing. “We draw at the camp school too,” he says with a smile. Harith had never been to school before he arrived to Hasansham. “My favourite subject is science,” he adds.

“I think he should be able to walk properly again in a few months,” says Mohammad, winking at Harith. “And his parent won’t need to carry him to school anymore. He’ll be able to walk by himself, like his friends.”

The situation in Mosul

Fighting between armed groups and government forces in Iraq in recent years has displaced more than three million people. An estimated 11 million civilians need humanitarian assistance in the country. The Mosul offensive has presented international organisations with an unprecedented challenge. More than 500,000 people have fled the fighting since 17 October and casualty numbers among civilians are high.

Handicap International and the Iraqi crisis

More than 125,000 people have benefited from Handicap International’s actions since the launch of its emergency response in Iraq in 2014. The organisation’s actions are regularly reviewed to take into account a highly volatile situation across the whole of Iraq. Handicap International currently organises activities to protect people by raising awareness of the risk from mines and conventional weapons, conducts non-technical surveys and clears potentially dangerous areas, provides physical and functional rehabilitation and psychosocial support, assists health centres, organises training and advocacy and provides technical support to partners to enhance the inclusion of vulnerable people (people with disabilities, casualties, older people, and others) in their services.

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