Author: Rachael Pells
Date: Monday 30 January 2017
An estimated 350,000 children are currently trapped in siege-like conditions and risk execution under Isis in the next stage of conflict, aid agencies have warned.
Half of the 750,000 trapped civilians in west Mosul are children who risk being killed by the terror-group if they try to flee, Save the Children reported.
Those who remain are at extreme risk from the devastating impact of artillery and other explosive weapons if they are deployed in the narrow and more densely-packed streets of the western districts.
More than three months into the Mosul offensive, the humanitarian crisis inside western sections of the city is reported to be increasingly desperate, with more causalities expected as Iraq’s infantry enters the city.
Three quarters of a million civilians are said to be out of reach of aid agencies and running out of food, water and basic supplies.
Trade routes to west Mosul have been cut off for months and bridges connecting the newly recaptured areas of the east to the districts of the west have been destroyed.
There are currently no safe routes out for residents in the parts of the city still under Isis control.
Save the Children is calling on Iraqi forces and their allies, including the US and UK, to take every possible precaution to minimise the risk to civilians and ensure children and their families have safe routes to escape the warzone as soon as possible.
Mahmoud, a medic living in a newly recaptured area of eastern Mosul, told the charity: “I talked to my family in West Mosul, they are staying inside and don’t have anything to eat or drink.
«No one is able to get the children anything, there’s no food or milk for babies – the markets are empty and the supplies they stockpiled have almost run out.
“There’s a huge risk for families trying to flee – if Isis see a family trying to escape, they kill them on the spot.
I tried to get mine out and agreed with a smuggler to bring them here, but he opted out because he saw a family of nine killed in front of his eyes.”
Maurizio Crivallero, Save the Children’s Iraq Country Director said civilians have so far made up nearly half of all casualties in the conflict, but in the narrow and densely populated old city streets they are at even greater risk as fighting intensifies.
«Children are trapped with nowhere to escape,” he said.
“To a child it doesn’t matter where the bombs come from — it’s where they land that matters. The impact of explosive weapons in west Mosul is likely to be deadly and indiscriminate.
«We must ensure that every effort humanly possible is made to protect children and their families from harm.
«Once families have made it out, we can reach them with life-saving aid and start helping children to rebuild their lives after more than two years under ISIS rule. But right now, hundreds of thousands of children remain trapped in West Mosul in a situation which grows more dangerous by the day.”