On 9 July, Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi declared an official end to the campaign to retake Mosul from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The hostilities lasted nearly nine months, led to the displacement of almost one million people, large numbers of trauma cases and severe damage to houses and infrastructure.
The level of trauma witnessed remains considerable: as of 4 July, 4,160 people had been treated at Trauma Stabilization Points near frontline areas of western Mosul since February.
ISIL still control other areas of the country. A recent attack on Imam Gharbi village, south of Qayyarah, on the West Bank of the Tigris, led to 170 deaths and the disruption of lifesaving assistance in eight camps.
On 9 July, the Iraqi authorities opened Bartella camp near Bartella town, 21 km east of Mosul. Displaced families perceived to be affiliated with ISIL are transferred to the camp from Mosul’s Old City. Humanitarian partners are following up on related protection concerns and inadequate service provision in the camp.
The battle to regain Mosul from ISIL began in October 2016 and caused mass movement of people as they fled for safety. Damage inside the Old City is said to be incomparable to any other conflict in Iraq so far. Of the 54 residential neighbourhoods in western Mosul, 15 are heavily damaged, at least 23 are moderately damaged, and, in the last three weeks of June alone, almost 3,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed. On 9 July, the battle was declared formally over when Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi visited Mosul.
The fight for the city – and Iraq more broadly – is however not yet over, and people continue to escape a battle that has seen them used as human shields or targeted by snipers as they attempted to flee. The fighting in Mosul intensified nearing the end as the cumulative number of people displaced by hostilities approaches the one million mark, surpassing the humanitarian community’s initial planning figures. The rate however at which people fled west Mosul slowed – since 29 June 1,400-3,700 people per day fled. Current information is that there are still several pockets deep inside the Old City where firing continues and possibly hundreds of vulnerable civilians are trapped.
Assembly areas, mustering points and screening sites remain in place, with humanitarian partners providing immediate relief assistance – including shading, ready-to-eat meals, water, sanitation facilities, as well as medical and protection services. People continue to flee with almost no belongings, and humanitarian partners report moderate to high malnutrition rates and an increasing number of children in need of supplementary feeding once they reach safety. Some 3.3 million people in and out of camps benefitted from emergency response packages, with most families receiving multiple distributions as their displacement continues and with no access to life-saving essentials.
Iraqi Security Forces are likely to turn their focus to Telafar now that Mosul is under the control of the Government of Iraq. The numbers fleeing since 24 April have reached over 17,000 people and are expected to increase once conflict intensifies. Preparations to assist those fleeing are underway by humanitarian partners working in the area. Mustering points are being set up in Boya and Talrad, and the petrol station at Badoush was re-established as a mustering point. People leaving the town are taking two routes, one to the south towards Tal Jarabiyah and the other to the north towards Shindukah, although they will be redirected towards Badoush. Less than 20,000 people are estimated to be in Telafar town.
Meanwhile, on the evening of 4 July, ISIL forces attacked the village of Imam Gharbi, causing at least 170 casualties, some of them civilian. At the time of reporting, ISF seem to have retaken the village but the situation on the ground is not yet secure, with sporadic fighting and insecurity being reported. The provision of humanitarian services was suspended in Qayyarah airstrip emergency site, Haj Ali camp and all Jad’ah camps as a consequence of the attack, affecting over 80,000 displaced people at the sites. Six water trucks could not pass through the checkpoints, which meant less water availability for the residents at a time when temperatures are soaring.
Outside of camps and in Mosul city water issues remain critical. There is a shortfall in funding for water trucking – a cause of concern as people begin returning to the city and will continue to do so. As of 11 July, close to 72,000 people returned to west Mosul and over 162,000 returned to the east side of the city. But for the past month now, the daily provision of water into Mosul city has remained steady at some 6.5 million litres, with some 3.4 million litres delivered by truck to western Mosul and some 3.1 million litres to eastern Mosul.
Trauma services also continue. Since October 2016, and as of 4 July, close to 15,900 people from Mosul city were referred through the established trauma pathways – over 9,700 people, more than 61 per cent, came from western Mosul alone since February. Beyond physical injuries, the mental scarring from fighting means people will need to be psychologically treated and rehabilitated through long-term programs.
In more recent developments, a total of 918 individuals (153 families) were transferred to Bartella camp from Madan area in Mosul’s Old City since 9 July. Initial assumptions were that all IDPs who were to be transferred to this camp had affiliations with ISIL – a notion which is now coming under scrutiny. There are serious concerns about the provision of basic humanitarian assistance. At least four deaths were confirmed and more are expected to be reported, indicating the need for a rapid up-scaling of aid provision. Of the four deaths, one child died from severe malnutrition, two others died as a result of injuries sustained when fleeing Mosul and one other person died due to a pre-existing kidney condition. While basic initial assistance is being provided, this is still not sufficient to meet basic humanitarian standards, especially regarding water provision. Sanitation and medical facilities are also minimal and only provided by a few national NGOs. While advocacy efforts continue to address questions as to the nature and purpose of this camp, humanitarian partners are working to provide protection presence at the camp while ensuring that all other services fall under the Iraqi authorities’ responsibility.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.