The desperate plight of a generation of children is in the balance as the bloody battle for the city of Mosul threatens to become a humanitarian catastrophe, Amnesty International said following a field investigation.
On a visit to the region this month, the organization met children of all ages who had suffered terrible injuries after being caught in the line of fire between the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) and government forces who are backed by a US-led coalition.
“Children caught in the crossfire of the brutal battle for Mosul have seen things that no one, of any age, should ever see. I met children who have not only sustained horrific wounds but have also seen their relatives and neighbors decapitated in mortar strikes, torn to shreds by car bombs or mine explosions, or crushed under the rubble of their homes,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser, who returned from a 17-day mission to northern Iraq.
With few or no functioning or accessible hospitals left in the conflict-affected areas of east Mosul, the epi-centre of the fighting, the best hope for the wounded to receive medical care is in Erbil, the capital of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
Even though only some of those injured in the Mosul battle have been evacuated to Erbil, hospitals there have been overwhelmed by the large number of casualties.
“The scars left by these unimaginably traumatic experiences are psychological as well as physical, but these life-altering wounds are being neglected by the Iraqi government and its allies, who have so far failed to ensure adequate medical facilities are in place,” said Donatella Rovera. “If there are resources for the war there must also be resources to deal with the consequences of war.”