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ICC Note:  Sharmad Ozan, 20, was forced to escape with his family from Mosul when it fell to the Islamic State in June 2014. He now lives in the asylum system of the UK but hasn’t spoken with his family in over a year. When he left them in Erbil, they were living outside and had no food. This is the fate of many Christians who have escaped the Islamic State incursion and genocide.

06/20/2016 Iraq (Catholic Online):Imagine walking down the street of your hometown. Families are enjoying time together at the park, children ride their bikes through the streets and a cool breeze rustles your hair.

All is beautiful for a moment – and then the shooting starts.

Twenty-year-old Sarmad Ozan is a Christian currently living in the UK after fleeing Mosul, Iraq, where he lived peacefully before the arrival of terrorist nation Islamic State.

According to Christian Today, Ozan spoke to Aid to the Church in Need and shared his story of escape.

“Islamic State took our city, our churches, our houses and women were sold into slavery like an object,” he shared.

When ISIS first overtook the city in June 2014, Ozan and his family were forced to remain as they “had no place to go.”

When militants issued a 24-hour ultimatum to convert to Islam or leave, Ozan and his family fled. He recalled waking up to see his home, as well as other Christian households, marked with the letter “N,” for “Nazarene.”

“We went from having a good healthy meal on our table every night to having to beg for food every day,” he shared. “Faith is all we have left that ISIS couldn’t take from us.”

Ozan’s family traveled approximately 51 miles by foot with no food or water through the desert to reach Erbil.

Once safely in Erbil, they stayed at a church so overcrowded many had to sleep outside.

While living at the church, Ozan learned his application for the engineering program in a UK university was accepted.

He chose to move to the UK alone but when the Iraqi government learned he was living within the UK asylum system, his scholarship was withdrawn.

Despite the financial blow, Ozan remains in the UK and admitted it has been over a year since he last spoke to his family.

“I miss them every day,” he told The National. “I miss everything about my old life. I feel safe in the UK. I can’t go back, I don’t have a home or any place in Iraq any more. My family were in Erbil when I left but I lost contact with them. They didn’t have any food.”

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