As military forces fight to retake Iraq’s second largest city from the so-called Islamic State (ISIL), more than half a million children could be left in the crossfire.
Children who’ve already endured two years of terror could now be forced to flee or trapped between the fighting lines. UNICEF is working around the clock to support civilians fleeing Mosul.
Read on for rolling updates on the situation or to make an emergency donation for children.
Updated 22 October 2016
Giving children the chance to play again
Boys and girls in Mosul and surrounding towns have lived under ISIL's terror for much of their young lives. This report shows how UNICEF's child-friendly spaces are helping children to recover by playing, learning and simply being kids again.
5,640 people have been displaced from their homes since operations began to retake Mosul from ISIL but that number is expected to rise significantly as hostilities intensify closer to urban areas. Some 200,000 people may be forced to flee to safety in the initial weeks of this conflict and, in the worst-case scenario, up to a million could eventually be displaced.
ISIL is using 'human shields'
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has called for the protection of civilians to be at the forefront of military planning as the Iraqi Government and associated forces attempt to re-take Mosul.
“We are gravely worried by reports that ISIL is using civilians in and around Mosul as human shields as the Iraqi forces advance, keeping civilians close to their offices or places where fighters are located, which may result in civilian casualties,” said Zeid.
The High Commissioner is particularly concerned about the women, children and men held captive by ISIL. “There is a grave danger that ISIL fighters will not only use such vulnerable people as human shields but may opt to kill them rather than see them liberated,” he said.
Updated 21 October 2016
Preparing aid for an unpredictable crisis
Aid agencies are racing to prepare for the looming displacement of children and families.
“The challenges in this scenario are unprecedented. We don’t often have up to one million people potentially on the move; it’s very rare in scale and size,” said UNICEF Regional Emergency Advisor Bastien Vigneau.
UNICEF will have to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances.
“Beyond the protection of children’s rights in this volatile situation, this is primarily a supply and logistics emergency response, and flexibility is our major challenge,” said Vigneau.
“We know we cannot prepare as much as we’d like for this because the situation is going to change all the time; it’s difficult to predict how the people of Mosul will be affected during the military operation.”
Meanwhile, the Australian Government has made a welcome contribution to the humanitarian response.
UNICEF reaches children south of Mosul
UNICEF has just delivered emergency water and sanitation supplies to al Houd, a town just south of Mosul that was retaken by Iraqi security forces two days ago. Under the control of the so-called Islamic State, many of al Houd’s children and families were forced to drink unsafe water and risked disease.
Despite terrible road conditions, blinding clouds of dust and the proximity to the frontline, UNICEF and its local partner WEO (Women Empowerment Organization) delivered a week's worth of bottled water for 1,500 and hygiene kits with buckets, soap and detergent.
UNICEF will now assess the needs of the children and families in al Houd and move to a longer term solution for the town.
Hoping for the best, preparing for the worst
The needs of children and families in Mosul are difficult to predict. The worst-case scenario: one million people displaced and 700,000 in need of emergency accommodation.
Three million Iraqis are already displaced within the country and more than 4.7 million children need urgent humanitarian assistance.