As the international community meets in Paris today to discuss the Mosul offensive, the future of 1.2 million civilians – including at least 600,000 children – trapped in the city hangs in the balance.
With the start of the offensive, families face an impossible decision. If they stay inside Mosul, they risk being killed by heavy weapons and used as human shields by ISIS, or being caught in cross-fire, shot by snipers or stepping on landmines if they try to flee. Even if they reach safety, there is currently no guarantee that they will be able to get the shelter and the help they desperately need, as humanitarian actors race against time to ensure critical support is in place. All the forces involved in the offensive - Iraqi and coalition alike - must do everything possible to protect civilians from the ongoing conflict.
The Government of Iraq must be supported to establish genuinely safe routes, prevent the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, and considerably scale up the humanitarian response. Plans must be developed and implemented now to secure reconciliation and durable solutions for those affected by conflict. Failure to achieve this today could lead to catastrophic consequences for Mosul’s children and their families, as well as Iraq’s future.
Oxfam Save the Children The International Rescue Committee Norwegian Refugee Council