As the military operation to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul from ISIS begins, U.N. groups and aid agencies are preparing for a complex humanitarian disaster.
Save the Children, an aid group on the ground in Iraq, estimates that there are 500,000 to 600,000 children trapped in the city. Aram Shakaram, the deputy country director in Iraq, said in a statement:”Those that try to flee will be forced to navigate a city ringed with booby traps, snipers and hidden land mines. Without immediate action to ensure people can flee safely, we are likely to see bloodshed of civilians on a massive scale.”
Alun McDonald, an aid worker with Save the Children in Erbil, said that he is concerned about the major lack of funding and resources available address the impending humanitarian crisis for the people of Mosul. “…There are so many millions or billions of dollars put into military actions and military offenses, but getting money to deal with the fallout of those offenses is always more difficult,” he said. “The money tends to be steered more toward the military side than toward the humanitarian side of things.”
As many as 200,000 could flee during the first weeks of fighting, and as many as 1 million could flee in a “worst-case scenario,” according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Meanwhile, shelter is currently available for only 60,000 people in camps and emergency sites outside Mosul, according to the OCHA.