Military forces launched the second phase of their offensive to retake Mosul, Iraq, in mid February. Since then, more than 150,000 people have fled the fighting in the western part of the city. The flow of displaced people is increasing, with an average of 9,000 newly displaced people every day. Handicap International’s teams provide their assistance to the population, in camps and hospitals.
“As the fighting rages in Mosul, we face an unprecedented number of newly displaced people,” says Fanny Mraz, Handicap International’s Head of mission in Iraq. “Only over the past ten days, close to 10,000 new IDPs (internally displaced people) were registered daily. We expect the displacement rate to increase even more in the weeks to come…” Some camps have already reached full capacity.
Among the population from west Mosul, humanitarians are seeing high numbers of civilian casualties, injured by heavy shelling in the area. “Thousands of people have been injured over the past few weeks,” Fanny adds. “We meet a very high number of men, women, children injured by bullets, blasts and shells. Hospitals and other health facilities are simply unable to cope with the numbers of trauma victims coming in from Mosul by ambulance.”
Handicap International’s teams work in two hospitals to assist the injured as soon as they arrive there. “We intervene in Hamdanyiah and Qayyarah hospitals, where a lot of casualties are being treated” Fanny explains. “We also extended our intervention in camps. We now also workd in Hamam Al Alil, where a lot of new IDPs are being accommodated. Our teams are doing their best to help.”
According to the United Nations, 300,000 additional people could flee the city in the upcoming weeks. And hundreds of thousands of civilians are still trapped inside western Mosul, at grave risk as the fighting continues.
Fighting between armed groups and government forces in Iraq in recent years has displaced more than three million people from their homes. An estimated 11 million civilians already need humanitarian assistance in the country. The Mosul offensive has presented international organizations with an unprecedented challenge. More than 300,000 people have fled over the last six months.
Handicap International and the Iraqi crisis
More than 125,000 people have benefited from Handicap International’s actions since the launch of its emergency response in Iraq in 2014. The organization’s actions are regularly reviewed to take into account a highly volatile situation across the whole of Iraq. Handicap International currently organizes activities to protect people by raising awareness of the risk from mines and conventional weapons, conducts non-technical surveys and clears potentially dangerous areas, provides physical and functional rehabilitation and psychosocial support, assists health centres, organises training and advocacy and provides technical support to partners to enhance the inclusion of vulnerable people (people with disabilities, casualties, older people, and others) in their services.