The UN has warned that the liberation of Mosul from the Islamic State group could cause the single largest humanitarian crisis of the year, with up to a million people needing shelter and a forced population movement that no single institution could cope with.
Lise Grande, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, warned that the coming battle could push the vast majority of the population of the city out of their homes, and billions of dollars would be needed to help them.
“The UN estimates that in a worst case scenario, Mosul could represent the single largest most complex humanitarian operation in the world in 2016,” she said.
“A worst case scenario in Mosul would look something like this: you would have mass expulsion of hundreds of thousands of people. You would have hundreds of thousands of people who are held as human shields inside the town. You would have a chemical attack that would put tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, maybe even more at grave risk. If all of that were to happen at the same time it would be catastrophic.”
Grande’s warnings came as Iraqi forces moved into position for an expected imminent push on the city. Iraq and its allies have repeatedly signaled that they are planning to retake the city – the country’s second-largest – in the coming weeks.
Civilians who have already attempted to escape Mosul were facing land mines and dehydration, aid agencies reported. Residents are confronted with a stark choice: remain in IS-controlled areas and risk violence and food shortages; or try to escape through minefields and escalating fighting while also risking dehydration.
Mosul has been occupied by IS since June 2014. Normally the city would have a population of more than two million, although at least half-a-million people have fled since IS took over.
[Middle East Eye]