Mosul civilians in Arabi district, retaken by Iraqi forces over the weekend. Photo: AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The hundreds of thousands of people remaining in western Mosul are facing a dire humanitarian crisis, the United Nations warned on Tuesday, a week after the Iraqi army announced it controls all five bridges linking eastern Mosul, where they are largely in control, with ISIS-held western Mosul.
“The reports from inside western Mosul are distressing,” the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, Lise Grande, said in a joint press release from a group of humanitarian agencies, stating that they do not have access to western Mosul “but all evidence points to a sharply deteriorating situation.”
“We don’t know what will happen in western Mosul but we cannot rule out the possibility of siege-like conditions or a mass exodus,” Grande said, detailing that food prices had soared and water and electricity services are intermittent.
According to UN figures, 450,000 civilians are living in eastern Mosul and an estimated 750,000 are in the west.
“As the war intensifies inside Mosul city and civilians run out of food, medicine, water and power, the number of refugees taking shelter in the Kurdistan Region has doubled over the past 10 days,” Hoshang Mohammed, Director General of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Ministry of Interior Joint Crisis Coordination Center (JCC) announced last week.
According to data from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 160,848 people are displaced as of Tuesday as a result of the military operation in Mosul.
Of those, some 90,000 have sought shelter in the Kurdistan Region, the JCC stated last week.
The full liberation of western Mosul could take at least five or six more months
, according to Michael Knights, the Washington Institute’s Lafer Fellow, and Joel Wing, an Iraq analyst who runs the ‘Musings on Iraq’ blog.
The UK’s Secretary of State for International Development reaffirmed her country’s support for the people of Mosul earlier this week.
“It is now imperative that aid workers have the access they need to deliver the same life-saving help to the 750,000 still trapped under Daesh rule in Mosul,” Priti Patel noted, “and that safe passage is given to all those who want to leave.”
The UK pledged 40 million pounds (about $52 million) in humanitarian aid to Iraq in September 2016 in anticipation of the Mosul operation. This was in addition to the 169.5 million pounds (about $221.5 million) given in aid to Iraq since 2014.
"We hope that everything is done to protect the hundreds of thousands of people who are across the river in the west,” Grande said. “We know that they are at extreme risk and we fear for their lives.”