Baghdad (ICRC) – As fighting intensifies around the Iraqi city of Mosul, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is increasing its presence in the field, in order to respond swiftly to new humanitarian needs. Two additional surgical teams are in the process of being deployed to hospitals receiving wounded from the front lines, while stocks of food and other essentials are ready to be distributed to people displaced by violence.
"When people start to flee the western side of Mosul, we are expecting that many will arrive in bad shape. Supply routes have been cut from that side of the city and people have been facing shortages of food, water, fuel, and medicine. We can only imagine the state people will be in," said the ICRC's field coordinator in Erbil, Dany Merhy. The western side of the city is densely populated, and the ICRC is extremely worried about the safety and welfare of hundreds of thousands there who chose to stay or are currently unable to leave.
The ICRC is sending additional medical staff – surgeons, trauma nurses, anaesthetists – to hospitals receiving wounded from the front lines, to ensure medical facilities can cope with rising demands for emergency treatment and care. This deployment is being supported by Red Cross National Societies from Finland, Norway and Germany. An ICRC surgical team has already been working at Sheikhan hospital near Mosul since October 2016.
"All sides must do everything in their power to protect civilians who stay in Mosul, just as they must ensure safe passage for those who leave the city," said the ICRC's head of delegation in Iraq, Katharina Ritz. "They must also do their utmost to minimize the damage to civilian homes as well as to infrastructure essential for their survival and, given the extensive damage they cause, avoid the use of explosive weapons in populated areas."
Since the start of the Mosul offensive, the ICRC has provided food, clean water and essential relief items to over 130,000 people. It has set-up operating theatres and provided war-wounded kits and other medical supplies to health structures that can help treat more than 280,000 patients. The ICRC has also helped train emergency staff.
For further information, please contact:
Sara Alzawqari (English/Arabic), ICRC Baghdad, tel: +964 790 191 69 27 Iolanda Jaquemet, ICRC Geneva, + 41 79 447 37 26