Erbil, Iraq, February 24, 2017 — In reaction to Iraqi forces reaching western Mosul, Jason Kajer, International Rescue Committee’s Iraq acting country director, said:
“We are now entering the most dangerous phase for civilians during the battle of Mosul. This will be a terrifying moment for the 750,000 people still in the west of the city and there is a real danger that the battle will be raging around them for weeks and possibly months to come. More than 1,750 civilians were hurt in the fight to retake eastern Mosul and the west of the city is far more densely populated. To prevent an even greater number of civilian casualties everything must be done to keep civilians out of the firing line and as Iraqi forces reach individual neighbourhoods people must be given the opportunity to escape the city safely.
“We must also not forget that civilians inside western Mosul have undergone more than two years of terrible suffering. Not only have they been without aid and struggling to afford the limited food available but will also have survived the trauma of living under the brutal rule of ISIS. Many will need a great deal of specialist support to overcome their ordeal.”
Around 150,000 people remain displaced by the fighting to retake Mosul and aid agencies are preparing for up to another 200,000 to flee their homes during the offensive to retake the west of the city.
The International Rescue Committee has distributed blankets, soap, spare clothing and mattresses to nearly 40,000 people in displacement camps outside Mosul. In one camp the IRC is running a safe space for children to learn and recover from the trauma of what they’ve been through. Our specialist teams are also working in camps to support vulnerable women and in local communities outside the city to identify and help separated children.
The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 29 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.