Up to 100,000 civilians in west Mosul are suffering from lack of food, water and fuel as the Iraqi and US-led coalition forces try desperately to free the remaining two districts in the old city from ISIS militants, expected to involve what the UN described as “hand by hand, house to house” fighting, reported Rudaw news on Saturday.
In a news briefing in Geneva on Friday, the UN Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) representative in Iraq, Bruno Geddo, stated that ISIS militants are holding an estimated 100,000 civilians effectively as human shields.
The civilians trapped in the last two districts of west Mosul, Old Mosul and Shifa, barely have any water, food, fuel or electricity left and are living in an increasing state of “penury and panic because they are surrounded by fighting on every side,” Geddo stated.
ISIS snipers are deliberately targeting civilians attempting to flee the city.
Geddo, who had spoken to several families fleeing the old district, said that many came under sniper fire as they tried to escape the city at night through the streets or by boat across the Tigris River to reach the safety of liberated east Mosul.
Lise Grande, Humanitarian Coordinator for the UN’s mission in Iraq, said that they are expecting the fight for Old Mosul to begin “within days.” She warned that no agency in the world could cope with the situation if 40,000 people decide to flee at the same time. She said the number of people fleeing Mosul is currently between 10,000 and 15,000 on a daily basis.