The rapid deterioration in Iraq’s security situation has led to floods of people taking to the roads to escape the fighting.
Checkpoints outside towns as yet unaffected by the advancing Sunni militants are filling up with vehicles and people as refugees press their cases to be allowed to continue.
Many are making their way into Kurdish-held areas which have remained mostly safe and stable, like the outskirts of lrbil, the capital of autonomous Kurdistan.
“I swear to God, the situation is terrible. Our normal life has been destroyed. Our fate remains uncertain because of the existing sectarian tension,” said the father of several children.
Tented camps are springing up to deal with the influx. Tough Kurdish peshmurga fighters patrol and lend an air of security; their presence does not deter a group of Turkmen fleeing the militants, happy to be given sanctuary on Kurdish soil.
The whirlwind change in situation has shocked many by its speed and left the government in Baghdad looking powerless and unable to cope. These homeless people can only hope of aid getting to them any time soon.
Area controlled by militants and current fighting
Main iraqi oil fields
Area controlled by militants in Syria and Iraq