An Iraqi woman and child at the Kurdish-run Dibaga refugee camp south of Erbil after leaving Mosul last month. Photo: AFP/Getty Images.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - Bloodshed of civilians on a massive scale is likely to await the Mosul population if they are not provided with safe routes out of the city, the Save the Children NGO warned.
It also warned that the capacity of camps awaiting a wave of residents to flee ISIS-occupied Mosul after the offensive that began Monday --currently at 60,000 --cannot accommodate the up to one million civilians expected to flee.
“At the moment camps are ready for only around 60,000 people – a tiny fraction of the up to one million people who could flee Mosul,” Save the Children said.
The Iraqi air force dropped leaflets over the city before the launch of the offensive, with messages of reassurance that the armed forces are liberating areas from ISIS and messages of advice, telling people to stay indoors.
The rights organization has criticized the Iraqi advice and calls it “unacceptable”
“Unless safe routes to escape the fighting are established, many families will have no choice but to stay and risk being killed by crossfire or bombardment, trapped beyond the reach of humanitarian aid with little food or medical care.” said Aram Shakaram, Save the Children’s Deputy Country Director in Iraq.
“Save the Children is calling for safe routes out of the city to be immediately identified and maintained, and cleared of deadly explosives,” the statement added.
In light of the “vast sums of money” for military spending, Shakaram said. “
An investment in the safety of children must be the priority.”