Image: OWFI activist (left) holds a child who was separated from his mother after they fled ISIS.
Last month the military assault began to retake the city of Mosul from ISIS. It's estimated that up to one million Iraqis could be forced to flee their homes due to the violence.
Already, the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), our on-the-ground partner, has told us of families running from Mosul with nothing but the clothes on their backs. It's a journey rife with danger. Women and families face vicious snipers and deadly landmines planted by ISIS along the way. Some of those who make it out of ISIS territory have walked for more than 20 hours. They are weak with exhaustion, traumatized, dehydrated and hungry.
But thanks to the support of MADRE members like you, we're reaching these women and families with lifesaving care. That's because weeks ago, OWFI activated their emergency response network to help Iraqis escaping Mosul. Once families flee, OWFI activists are there, providing desperately needed food, water, medical care and other vital aid.
Now our activist partners are hard at work, negotiating with local authorities for permission to set up new shelters for women who remain at risk of deadly violence - even after they've managed to escape ISIS.
We know that ISIS regularly targets women with sexual violence. Women who have been raped by ISIS, or even suspected as having been, are at serious risk of so-called "honor killings" by their families. Rape survivors fleeing Mosul are in desperate need of safety and shelter from harm. And thanks to your support, OWFI is ready to provide it to them.
There's no national law that allows local organizations like OWFI to run shelters. But through grassroots advocacy, we're working to convince authorities to make an exception in this time of crisis and allow OWFI to run shelters for women and families fleeing Mosul. And when this happens, we build the momentum for the sweeping policy change that Iraqi human rights organizations demand - to allow local groups to run shelters across the country.
When you support MADRE, you reach women and families in even the hardest of places with lifesaving aid. Thank you for making this possible.