Four weeks into the military offensive to liberate Mosul from its ISIL occupiers, the combined Iraqi and Kurdish forces have gained a toehold on the outskirts of the city and are pushing in. As they advance, they meet groups of civilians making their way out of the city and away from the fighting, away from brutal ISIL fighters who booby trap the city and are more likely to shoot at civilians than to aim at opposing troops. But for every civilian fleeing the city, the invading forces encounter countless more who remain hunkered down in their homes.
Indeed, conditions within the city are dire, with acute shortages of food, medicines and daily necessities. So delivery of humanitarian aid and care for Mosul’s denizens is an important part of the operation.
Because this operation has been long in planning, aid workers had prepositioned their supplies to ease delivery. “We’ve been actively working with our partners on the ground – that’s the UN and the international NGOs – to stand ready to provide emergency shelter, food, water, sanitation, and hygiene services as well as health support. We’re trying to stay ahead of the crisis, which we’ve been able to do,” said a senior administration official during a teleconference.
“There’ve been about 3.2 million people displaced from their homes since 2014, and 10 million people in need of assistance. That equates to somewhere around one-third of the Iraqi total population. And the United States has been there supporting the Iraqi people with more than $1.1 billion in humanitarian aid since 2014. Over the summer, we helped the international community secure pledges for $2 billion as it relates to the Mosul operation,” the official said.
Aid workers have prepositioned enough food supplies for about 1.25 million people, and have enough in the pipeline and ready for delivery to feed 2.3 million. They are also set to deliver shelter, water sanitation, healthcare and protection.
So far, about 34 thousand civilians have fled the city of Mosul since the fighting began over three weeks ago. But the battle for Mosul has barely begun, and aid workers are ready to deliver supplies to the entire city, if necessary.