13-01-2017 | Latest News , Middle East

Iraq: ICRC commends civilians being protected in battle for Mosul

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) commends the steps being taken during the battle for Mosul to reduce civilian casualties and adhere to the laws of war.  This has helped reduce the number of people being forced out of their homes.

However, the long and grueling battle for Mosul is intensifying and fighting is reaching the inner parts of the city resulting in a lack of water, food and medical care. The International Committee is calling for access to the city to help those left inside.

More than 140,000 have been displaced from Mosul and its outskirts. So far ICRC has reached nearly half that number with food and emergency relief items and is working hard to reach all those more recently displaced and in need.

The President of ICRC said during visit this week: “I have seen a lot of heavily destroyed villages which have been completely abandoned. People need food, health services and water and the real preoccupations of people is to leave the camps, to go back to a normal life.”

In one of the recently retaken villages near Mosul, Tobzawa, the ICRC President met families who have just returned home from Khazer camp where more than 33,000 people are seeking shelter.

Abo Jabbar only spent 45 days in Khazer camp before deciding to go home despite having little to survive on. “We sold our cattle because we had to go to Khazer camp,” Jabbar explains. “We can’t use the land to farm because it is heavily contaminated and we don’t know if there are explosives so we could not plant or let our cattle go far.”

He continues: “There is no electricity and the water we have is from wells and not drinkable. Schools have been closed down for three years. There’s no source of income. None of the employees are receiving salaries. Only those who have retired, receive an allowance.”

The International Committee of the Red Cross has reached out to help people like Jabbar as they return home with food and emergency relief items such as cooking tools, hygiene kits and blankets.

Beyond ICRC’s work repairing basic infrastructure, providing food and other essential help, the organization is focusing on reconnecting families who have lost contact with each other in the chaos of the fighting. During his visit, the ICRC President saw a mother in Hasan Sham camp receiving news of her son. He said: “It's a great moment to see how a mother reacts when we are able to bring news about her son who is alive. They are worried about their son being detained but they are also relieved.”

Facts & Figures

In 2016, the International Committee of the Red Cross:

  • provided food rations and other essential items to nearly 1.1 million Iraqis
  • ensured access to clean water for nearly 2.5 million people.
  • provided medical supplies to health structures and primary health centers benefiting more than 1.14 million people.
  • More than 37,300 people were treated in physical rehabilitation centers supported by the ICRC.
  • visited more than 45,000 detainees in 90 places of detention and delivered nearly 13,000 Red Cross Messages and 10,500 oral greetings.
  • more than 64,000 displaced people have received help to withstand the cold winter conditions including winter clothes and heaters

During the battle for Mosul, the ICRC is supporting more than 15 medical facilities with medicine, dressing kits, surgical instruments, and war wounded kits enabling medical staff to conduct hundreds of operations and treat more than 280,000 wounded people from Nineveh, Erbil, Dohuk, Kirkuk, and Salahuddin.

SHOTLIST

Location: Various Iraq

Length: 9:07

Format: HD H264 MP4

Sound: English

Ref: AV584N

Date: 09.01.2017

0:00 Various shots showing houses and markets destroyed due to fighting on route to Hasan Sham camp

0:11 ICRC President Peter Maurer at Abo Jabbar’s house seeing wall damaged by gunfire due to the fighting a month ago in Tobzawa village.

SOUNDBITE Abo Jabbar, Tobzawa village spent 45 days in Khazer camp before deciding to go back to his home

0:22 “There is no electricity and the water we have is from wells and not drinkable. Schools have been closed down for three years. There’s no source of income. None of the employees are receiving salaries. Only those who have retired, receive an allowance. We sold our cattle because we had to go to Khazer camp. We can’t use the land to farm because it is heavily contaminated and we don’t know if there are explosives so we could not plant or let our cattle go far.”

1:14 Various of ICRC staff talking to families who have returned to Topzawa village (20 km from Mosul) after being in Khazer camp.

1:26 Various on road on the way to Hasan Sham camp

1:43 ICRC president and team in Hasan Sham camp talking to people and children

SOUNDBITE: ICRC President, Peter Maurer (in English):

2:40 “What I have seen is of course a lot of destroyed and heavily destroyed villages which have been completely abandoned and, in the same region, an increasing number of camps which are still not finished but are increasing and therefore we see a lot of traditional needs that we are used to seeing. People need food and health services and water and they need tents and I think it's good that we are able to work with other in order to respond to some of those needs.  But at the same time I'm struck but what are the real preoccupations of people and this is to leave the camps to go back to a normal life to be able to have less restraint around the camps and I think this is an important issue to recognize.

3:42 After a couple of weeks on a camp people are really eager to go back. What I also see is a lot of children who need to go to school and of course this is a gap now in their education which must not last too long and therefore it will be critical to have a stabilisation of the situation which allows people to go back. 

4:10 little girl in camp

4:14 ICRC President talking to Fakheralden Omar (Medical Delegate), Katherina Ritz (Head Of ICRC Iraq) and The president ask Dr.Abdullah Ismail (Head of Al-Zahraa PHCC, east of Mosul) about the medical situation inside Mosul.

5:41 ICRC delivery of medical supplies

6:00 ICRC team looking at water project inside Hasan Sham camp

6:09 ICRC president helps to distribute aid to displaced people from Mosul in the camp.

6:20 Wide shot to Saman Faeq (Tracing Field Officer), Peter Maurer and Sara Zaimi (Field Delegate) carrying a letter to a mother from her son arrested from the camp.

SOUNDBITE: ICRC President, Peter Maurer (in English):

7:27 “These distressing accounts by families who've been torn apart, have been executed or killed members from both sides, who have people detained, members of the families detained who are uncertain about the destiny of their loved ones. Here again I think it's an important activity of ICRC to try to bring those families back and bring certainty back to those families.”

7:59 “It's a great moment to see how a mother and a wife reacts when we are able to bring news about their son who is living, maybe detained. They are worried about their son being detained but they are also relieved because they is some certainty and some perspective in the future. I'm very glad to see that ICRC is focusing in this conflict on the really important issues of protection, bringing families together, bringing certainty to families about the missing, looking at the challenges of detention, on security arrangements, engaging with armed actors and seeing that they behave in a way that does not inflict further suffering to the population. In that sense I am deeply convinced that this is an excellent operation and an important work that we are doing here.”

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For further information, please contact:

ICRC Baghdad: Sarah Alzawqari (+964) 7901916927, salzawqari@icrc.org

ICRC Geneva: Krista Armstrong, (+41) 79 447 37 26 karmstrong@icrc.org

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