Iraq: Thousands of children at risk as families flee Mosul
18 June update: A cargo plane carrying 33 metric tonnes of UNICEF emergency supplies arrived in Erbil in Iraq on 18 June. UNICEF Iraq, together with partners, will be targeting more than 35,000 children and their families to benefit from the supplies received on the plane.
Around 500,000 people, up to half of them children, have been forced to flee their homes in Mosul, Iraq, after violence erupted on earlier this week.
“The situation facing children is extremely alarming,” said Marzio Babille, UNICEF Representative in Iraq. “Violence is escalating. Children’s lives have been shattered almost overnight.”
Thousands of children have taken refuge in schools, hospitals and mosques outside Mosul, many of them without water, sanitation, or shelter from the heavy heat. And sometimes even these refuges are vulnerable – a school in Mosul was directly targeted by mortar fire during fighting on Saturday, with reports of multiple child casualties.
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Inside Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, UNICEF has received reports that none of the five hospitals is functioning. Shops and markets are closed. “The situation is dire and is worsening by the moment,” Babille said. “We have to reach children with safe water, shelter, food, and protection – they cannot wait.”
UNICEF is working with partners to meet the rapidly rising needs of displaced families and children, and of those who remain behind. Immediate priorities include safe drinking water, appropriate sanitation facilities, and emergency immunisation so crucial to preventing the spread of diseases, including polio, which has re-appeared in Iraq this year, and measles.
“This is an emergency on top of an emergency in Iraq– coming on the heels of other internal displacements of children and families in Anbar, as well as Syrian refugees in the north,” Babille said.