I am standing on a rise in Iraq, overlooking line upon line of domed blue and white tents connected by a maze of narrow rocky roads and a spider’s web of electrical cables hanging symmetrically and swinging rhythmically from metal poles.
Outside some of the tents small satellite dishes point hopefully to the sky, some sitting atop 44 gallon drums of kerosene – a family’s fuel for cooking and heating.
Water connection points dot the camp and communal bathroom facilities rise above the tents marking out the symmetry and allegiance to international standards of camp design for Internally Displaced Persons. A water tower the size of a small apartment block interrupts the view of a distant mountain.
There is a harsh permanent beauty to this place that has been overtaken by uncertainty, fear and incomprehension.
In the far distance, snow-capped mountains guard the valley and feed a small stream that meanders around the mesh and razor wire fence.
Contained within the fence, thousands of families – most arrived within the past five months, some in the past few days – are trying to make sense of the latest, and what looks like a more permanent eviction from their homes and neighbourhoods.
Mosul is about 20 kilometres away, and as I sit listening to another story of displacement I ‘feel’ and hear the whump of exploding air ordinance.
The people around me don’t even flinch. They speak of running from homes as bullets explode in walls around them and as aircraft scream overhead firing rockets into the neighbourhood.