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Press centre

Joint news note

Humanitarians fear for the 750,000 civilians in western Mosul

© UNICEF/UN037306/Soulaiman
On 26 October 2016, following the on-going hostilities in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, newly arrived refugees on the way to the Al-Hol camp, close to the Iraqi border in Syria’s north -eastern Hasakeh Governorate.

For multimedia content please visit: http://uni.cf/2erihVm

BAGHDAD, 24 January 2017 -  100 days after military operations to retake Mosul started, 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.

"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 the contingency plan prepared prior to the onset of the Mosul campaign, humanitarian partners warned that as many as one million civilians may be impacted by the fighting in a worst case scenario. To date, 180,000 people have fled the eastern sections of the city; more than 550,000 civilians have stayed in their homes.

Humanitarian partners have been working as quickly as possible to provide direct life-saving assistance. Nearly 600,000 people have received food, 745,000 people have benefitted from water and sanitation support and 370,000 people have sought medical care. Eighty-five per cent of the people displaced from Mosul are staying in 13 displacement camps and emergency sites constructed by the Government and partners. Ten of these camps are already full of which four are being extended. Seven more are under construction. 

"The reports from inside western Mosul are distressing. Humanitarian partners are unable to access these areas but all the evidence points to a sharply deteriorating situation. 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," said Ms. Grande.

"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. To date, nearly half of all the casualties from Mosul are civilians. It's terrifying to think of the risks families are facing," said Ms. Grande. "They can be killed by booby-traps and in cross-fire and could be used as human shields."

The Iraqi Security Forces have adopted a humanitarian concept of operations putting civilian protection at the centre of their battle plan. Humanitarian partners welcome this approach and renew their collective call on all parties to the conflict to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians and ensure they have access to life-saving assistance.

"The world’s attention is fixed on the military campaign in Iraq. But once this is over, there will still be a humanitarian crisis. As many as three million Iraqis, maybe even four million depending on what happens in Mosul, Hawiga and Tel Afar may be displaced from their homes as a result of the conflict. These families will need to make crucial choices about how to rebuild and re-establish their lives. And we will need to be here to help them. We hope and trust that the international community will not walk away after Mosul. It would be a mistake — a very big one — if this were to happen. "


Lise Grande, Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq
Aaron Brent, Country Representative Northern Iraq, CARE
Altaf Musani, Representative and Head of Mission, WHO Iraq
Bana Kaloti, Regional Director-Middle East, UNOPS
Bruno Geddo, Representative in Iraq, UNHCR
Dina Zorba, Country Representative, UN Women
Erfan Ali, Head of Iraq Programme, UN-Habitat
Fadel El-Zubi, Representative in Iraq, FAO
Francesco Motta, Director of the HRO/UNAMI, Representative of the UN OHCHR in Iraq
Ivo Freijsen, Head of Office Iraq, UNOCHA
Louise Haxthausen, Director, UNESCO Iraq
Mounir Tabet, Country Director, UNDP Iraq
Peter Hawkins, Representative in Iraq, UNICEF
Ramanathan Balakrishnan, Representative, UNFPA
Sally Haydock, Representative in Iraq, WFP
Thomas Lothar Weiss, Iraq Chief of Mission, IOM
Lawk Ahmad, Country Director, Qandil
Matthew Nowery, Country Director, Samaritan’s Purse
Mike Bonke, Country Director, Welthungerhilfe
Stef Deutekom, Deputy Country Director, DRC


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For more information, please contact:
HC Office / UNOCHA, Philippe Kropf, kropf@un.org, +964 751 135 2875
CARE, Sandra Bulling, bulling@careinternational.org, +49 157 53 60 54 81
DRC, Delawit Mesfin, communications.officer@drciraq.dk , + 964 751 740 3801
FAO, Karina Coates, karen.coates@fao.org, +964 750 875 9701
HRO/UNAMI, Samir Ghattas, ghattass@un.org, +9647901931281
IOM, Sandra Black, sblack@iom.int, +964 751 234 2550
Qandil, Josh Ede, communications@qandil.org, +9647511227011
Samaritan’s Purse, Alison Garza, AGarza@samaritan.org, +964 7510703805
UNDP, Nidaa Hilal, nidaa.hilal@undp.org, +964 780 447 3336
UNESCO, Dhea Subhee, d.subhee@unesco.org, +964 782 783 739 
UNFPA, Mohamed Megahed, megahed@unfpa.org, +964 750 342 7036
UN-Habitat, Alan Miran,  alan.miran@unhabitatiraq.org, 964 750 342 7036
UNHCR, Caroline Gluck, gluck@unhcr.org, +964 780 920 7286
UNICEF, Sharon Behn Nogueira, snogueira@unicef.org, + 964 782 782 0238
UNOPS, Charlotte Lancaster, CharlotteL@unops.org, +964 751 135 2970
UN Women, Bernice Rumala, bernice.rumala@unwomen.org, +964 751 583 0045
Welthungerhilfe, Simone Pott, Simone.Pott@welthungerhilfe.de, +49 228 2288 132
WHO, Pauline Ajello, ajellopa@who.int, +964 751 010 1460
WFP, Inger Marie Vennize, ingermarie.vennize@wfp.org, +964 780 915 0937




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