A hundred days after the start of military operations to retake Mosul from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) militants, humanitarian partners are expressing deep concern about the plight of the estimated 750,000 civilians who are currently living in the western sections of the city where fighting is expected to start in coming weeks.
Up until now, eastern Mosul has been the main battleground. To date, 180,000 people have fled the city’s eastern sections; more than 550,000 civilians have stayed in their homes.
“We are relieved that so many people in the eastern sections of Mosul have been able to stay in their homes. We hope that everything is done to protect the hundreds of thousands of people who are across the river in the west. We know that they are at extreme risk and we fear for their lives,” said Lise Grande, Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, in a statement signed also by other humanitarians from UN agencies and the civil society.
We don’t know what will happen in western Mosul but we cannot rule out the possibility of siege-like conditions or a mass exodus
“The reports from inside western Mosul are distressing,” said Ms. Grande, noting that humanitarian partners are unable to access these areas and the prices of basic food and supplies are soaring. Water and electricity are intermittent in neighbourhoods and many families without income are eating only once a day. Others are being forced to burn furniture to stay warm, she added.
“We don’t know what will happen in western Mosul but we cannot rule out the possibility of siege-like conditions or a mass exodus,” said Ms. Grande. “They can be killed by booby-traps and in cross-fire and could be used as human shields.”