Khazir (Iraq) (AFP) - Abdelwahed Mahmud dug gullies around his tent in northern Iraq Thursday after heavy overnight rain flooded Khazir camp, the latest hardship to hit the thousands of families displaced around Mosul.
"This is to stop the rain, if we don't dig these, it will keep coming in," said the 35-year-old, using the back of his spade to shore up the sides of his tent.
Around 74,000 people have been forced to flee their homes since tens of thousands of Iraqi forces launched a major offensive to retake Mosul, the last major bastion in Iraq of the Islamic State group.
The first major rain storms of the winter swept the Mosul area late Wednesday, miring the displaced gathered in the crowded camps dotting the region.
Earlier this week, the first sub-zero temperatures hit the region and on Thursday some families in Khazir camp woke up to find their foam mattresses soaked in muddy water.
"We are cursed," said Samar Lafi, a woman with decaying teeth who did not know her year of birth but looked in her mid-thirties.
"We don't put the heater on, we'd rather use the paraffin they are giving us to cook," said the mother of two, who was displaced twice since IS conquered large parts of Iraq in 2014.
People trudged along in the mud, carrying gas canisters and bottled water, or pushing wheelbarrows filled with basic goods down the camp alleys.
- Water in the tents -
Some wore plastic bags over their shoes to walk through the puddles while a group of children embraced the situation and played in the biggest pool of muddy water.
"This is how we live," said Waddah Abdelhadi, from Mosul's Intisar neighbourhood, extending his arms in a gesture of powerlessness and looking at the thousands of white tents around him.
"The water entered some tents, we wish they had put a concrete base under them or surfaced at least the main road to facilitate the movements of those coming back with from the shops," said the 28-year-old, who described himself as a poet.
The tents in Khazir, the largest of the camps set up for the people displaced by the Mosul offensive, stretch over more than a kilometre.
"It's very muddy inside the tents, and it's only going to get worse with the frosty weather," Abdelhadi said.
Camp manager Badreddin Najmeddin said 6,000 heaters were handed out in Khazir over the past two days.
The hundreds of thousands who remained in their homes inside Mosul face no better conditions however, with fierce fighting raging in the city.
The United Nations warned on Wednesday that up to 500,000 civilians inside Mosul were facing a shortage of drinking water that will have a "catastrophic impact."