Geneva/Baghdad (ICRC) – The most recent wave of violence in central Iraq, particularly in the city of Mosul, has further intensified the need for humanitarian aid arising from fighting that has been taking place since December. Hundreds of thousands of people have fled Mosul in search of safety. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is taking action to help people in Mosul and elsewhere, and appealing to all parties to the conflict to fully respect the rules and principles of international humanitarian law.
"We are extremely worried by the effects of the ongoing fighting on civilians," said Patrick Youssef, head of the ICRC delegation in Iraq. "We urge all parties to the conflict to spare civilians the effects of the fighting. Civilians must not be attacked and they must be allowed to move freely to safer areas. Civilian structures such as homes, hospitals, schools or places of worship must not be targeted."
International humanitarian law clearly stipulates that the dead must be collected and respected, irrespective of the side they belong to, and treated in a respectful manner. Persons detained, or otherwise in the power of a party to the conflict, must be treated humanely in all circumstances.
Mosul is also suffering from a shortage of electricity and other power supplies. Although hospitals have been able to treat a large number of injured people, some of them have either stopped functioning completely or are working at reduced capacity. ICRC staff have been responding to the needs of the displaced and have already distributed one-month food parcels and other relief items to over 10,000 people displaced in Zummar and in Al-Qosh, north of Mosul.
"We are calling on all parties to the conflict to make sure that medical services can continue to perform their tasks," said Mr Youssef. "Every injured or sick person must receive treatment. Medical personnel and facilities must be protected and respected."
ICRC personnel in Kirkuk, Dohuk, Erbil and Baghdad are monitoring the situation closely. More food and other relief items will be delivered in the coming days. The ICRC is appealing to all parties involved in the fighting as well as tribal and community elders and other authorities to facilitate its access to areas where people need its help.