What Life Looks Like After You Flee ISIS


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What Life Looks Like After You Flee ISIS

Photos from inside a camp for internally displaced persons in Northern Iraq.

In 2016, 65.6 million people were forcibly displaced from their homes. To put that horrifying figure another way—that's about one in 100 of the world's population forced to flee due to war, famine, climate change, persecution, or any combination of the above.

ISIS, obviously, plays a large part in the creation of this worldwide diaspora of desperation, as they continue to reign chaos on areas under its control. In the next few days, Iraqi forces are predicted to finally wrestle command of the city of Mosul, which has been the militant group's de facto capital since 2014. The current offensive started in October last year and was expected to be over long before now.


New Zealander Malcolm Johnstone arrived in Iraq the day the battle to retake Mosul began. As an information analyst for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees his job was to help find a way to house the 230,000 Iraqi citizens taking shelter from the fighting. Malcolm's photos below show daily life at one of the area's biggest camps for internally displaced persons at the Qayyarah Airstrip Camp—home to 48,000 people.

Malcolm spoke to men as they arrived at the airstrip: "One gentleman, a farmer, said he felt the joy of a child that day, and another, a house painter, said how he felt as a man sick man does when he recovers."

Malcolm, who has worked on responses to humanitarian crises in Nigeria due to the Boko Haram insurgency and Lebanon due to the Syrian civil war, says he left this mission feeling optimistic for Iraq—once they deal a final blow to ISIS. "I hope and think they can unite as a nation, resolve the issue of an independent Kurdistan peacefully, and get the international support to rebuild their country."