Mosul: 200,000 people trapped by the fighting
The Iraqi armed forces announced the launch of the final phase of their offensive to retake the city of Mosul in Iraq.  Since the start of this military operation in October 2016, overhalf a million people  have fled the city. Nearly 200,000 people are still trapped by the fighting  and may flee in the coming days, a situation viewed as highly alarming by Handicap International.
Displaced of Kazher camp | © E. Fourt / Handicap International
“We’re particularly worried about the 200,000 civilians still trapped in the city,” says Fanny Mraz, Handicap International’s head of mission in Iraq. “They face a terrible dilemma: stay at home and run the very real risk of getting hit by a bombing, or flee and risk injury on the way to the retaken areas.”
Rise in casualties
As the fighting intensifies, the number of casualties coming out of Mosul has risen sharply in recent months. Since the start of the offensive, more than 12,500 people have required emergency care in the region’s hospitals. “Handicap International’s teams in the field have witnessed their suffering, first hand. The use of explosive weapons in Mosul kills, produces serious injuries and causes severe psychological trauma. Since the start of our emergency response, we have been working to assist conflict-affected civilians in hospitals and camps for displaced people,” continues Fanny Mraz.
Risk education and accident prevention
Handicap International provides rehabilitation care, psychological support and, as part of its ongoing prevention work, keeps raising awareness of the threat from mines and explosive remnants of war among people from Mosul. “The population is constantly exposed to danger. It is extremely important that everyone knows how to confront the risk of explosive remnants of war. Since the start of our emergency response, we have raised the awareness of more than 25,000 people,” says Handicap International’s head of mission.
Protecting civilians under all circumstances
As the military situation in Mosul evolves, Handicap International is calling for the protection of civilians by all necessary means, including an end to the use explosive weapons in densely-populated areas. It is also vital that the military response does not obstruct the humanitarian response. “Our priority is to protect the population and ensure everyone can access humanitarian aid,” adds Fanny Mraz.