The United Nations food relief agency today said it is extremely concerned about the humanitarian situation facing more than 750,000 people living in dire conditions in the western sections of Iraq's Mosul city, where fighting is taking place between the Government forces and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da'esh) terrorists.
“We are hearing from some families that food has drastically risen in price and is unaffordable. In extreme cases, people cannot access food at all,” said the World Food Programme's (WFP) Iraq Representative and Country Director, Sally Haydock, in a news release.
“We appeal to all parties to the conflict to facilitate immediate and unimpeded humanitarian access to all Iraqis in need of assistance,” Ms. Haydock added, noting that WFP is monitoring the frontlines and remains ready to provide immediate food assistance as soon as families can be reached safely.
Through telephone interviews, many distressed families said that food was unaffordable, while others said they could not access food at all.
“The situation is unbelievable,” reported a 46-year-old man from inside the city. “There is no food, no clean water, no gas for heating, no medicine and no services.”
So far, WFP has provided ready-to-eat food for over 6,000 people who have fled villages to the south of western Mosul. Most have made their way to Hamam Al Alil, Qayyarah Jeda'a and Haj Ali camps. WFP has enough food in stock to cover the immediate needs of 770,000 people who reside in western Mosul.
The military offensive to oust ISIL from Mosul began on 17 October 2016. The Government has since retaken eastern Mosul.
In related news, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has reported that alongside its partners, it has provided legal assistance to help more than two and a half thousand Iraqis displaced as a result of the Mosul offensive receive new civil identity cards and other documents that were lost, damaged or destroyed as they fled their homes seeking safety.
As many as 49 per cent of displaced Iraqis interviewed by UNHCR protection partners were found to need help in getting new civil documentation, as many families lost documents or had their papers damaged as they fled conflict zones. Other families were told that birth and marriage documents, which had been issued when their areas were under the control of armed groups, were not legally recognized by the Iraqi Government and needed replacement.
“It took considerable time and effort to help displaced families with new documentation,” said Bruno Geddo, UNHCR's Representative in Iraq. “Our teams and partners have had to adopt some innovative methods and advocate tirelessly in order to get around some of the difficulties and lengthy bureaucratic requirements”, he said, citing the agency's ongoing efforts to assist thousands of people who have been in “legal limbo.”