(Baghdad, 18 February 2017): With military operations to retake western Mosul beginning, humanitarian organizations are warning that tens of thousands of families are at extreme risk. Recent surveys with key informants confirm that food and fuel supplies are dwindling, markets and shops have closed, running water is scarce and electricity in many neighborhoods is either intermittent or cut off.
“The situation is distressing. People, right now, are in trouble. We are hearing reports of parents struggling to feed their children and to heat their homes,” said Lise Grande, Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq. “The battle hasn’t started but already there is a humanitarian crisis.”
The UN estimates that between 750,000 and 800,000 civilians are resident in the western section of the city. Few, if any commercial supplies have reached Mosul during the past three months after the main road to Syria was cut-off. Informants report that nearly half of all food shops have closed. Bakeries throughout the area have run out of fuel and many can no longer afford to purchase costly flour. Prices of kerosene and cooking gas have skyrocketed and many of the most destitute families are burning wood, furniture, plastic or garbage for cooking and heating.
“Children and their families are starting to face critical shortages of safe drinking water,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative in Iraq. “Three out of five people now depend on untreated water from wells for cooking and drinking as water systems and treatment plants have been damaged by fighting or run out of chlorine.”
“Food prices in western Mosul are almost double than in eastern Mosul,” said Sally Haydock, Representative of the World Food Programme in Iraq. “We are extremely concerned that many families do not have enough to eat in western Mosul.”
Humanitarian agencies are rushing to prepare for the humanitarian impact of the military campaign. Emergency sites are being constructed south of the city and stocks of life-saving supplies are being pre-positioned for the 250,000 – 400,000 civilians who may flee.
“We don’t know what will happen during the military campaign but we have to be ready for all scenarios. Tens of thousands of people may flee or be forced to leave the city. Hundreds of thousands of civilians might be trapped—maybe for weeks, maybe for months,” said Ms. Grande. “Protecting civilians is the highest priority in a situation like this—nothing is more important.”
For further information, please contact:
Damian Rance, Communications Officer, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Iraq, (firstname.lastname@example.org / +964 (0)751 740 3858
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.