More than Ten Million Iraqi civilians - more than half are children - along with an additional 3.4 million others displaced in recent weeks. All of which are now in need of humanitarian assistance as they face massive food shortages, and extreme conditions with little to no protection and from exploding devices and bullets as they are now caught between Coalition Forces, The Kurdish Peshmerga and Iraqi Force during the ongoing Offensive to retake Mosul and the surrounding areas from ISIS.
With numbers, swelling to over a million since the battle for Iraq’s second major city began, the resources to respond to this escalating crisis are not there, and the humanitarian response in Iraq is severely underfunded. According to OCHA, the UN appeal for Mosul is approximately 48% funded, with $136.8 million secured.
Andres Gonzales, Oxfam's Director in Iraq, said: “The Government of Iraq has every right to control its territory but, along with the other parties involved in this ongoing conflict, must abide by the international humanitarian law and protect civilian areas and infrastructure. The people of Mosul have already suffered enough. Genuinely safe routes must be provided so they can escape the fighting and get to the shelter and help they need.”
In previous operations, authorities attempted to establish safe routes for civilians trying to flee conflict areas. However, attacks on the civilian population, confiscation of documents, checkpoints, and explosive devices have made the routes far from safe.
Many of the civilians who were able to flee before the onset of the current conflict, are now unable to find a safe place. The Iraqi Government’s planned sites to screen men and boys and thirteen camps for the
displace were not built and lacked the most basic facilities. "Even
traumatized families who tried to flee the violence, now face living out in the open or overcrowded camps."
Those who fled before the Offensive's onset with only the clothes on their back cannot face the harsh Iraqi winters without help,” Gonzales said.
Oxfam is scaling up its existing operation in the area known as the Mosul Corridor to provide those who fled the fighting with clean drinking water, blankets, and other vital aid. Oxfam is also working in another key strategic area of Qayyarah, Iraq. This area also sandwiched between ISIS-controlled territories is providing clean water, sanitation and essential items like blankets and hygiene kits.
Oxfam is also working in villages and towns across Diyala and Kirkuk governorates in Northern Iraq since 2014. They continue to provide safe water in camps and communities where people who have fled the fighting are enabling people to earn a living so that once it is safe, families can return home and help support their families.
In the long term, once the fighting is over and areas are deemed safe, people will need support to return home and rebuild their lives. It is going to take a lot of time and money to repair the damage already sustained in Northern Iraq to ensure the area does not slip back into violence in the future.
information for this article was provided by: Oxfam