Lives of 100,000 children in west Mosul at risk, warns UNICEF

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – UNICEF has issued a plea to all parties fighting in west Mosul to protect children caught up in the conflict, being used as human shields and some forced to fight.

“Children’s lives are on the line. Children are being killed, injured and used as human shields. Children are experiencing and witnessing terrible violence that no human being should ever witness. In some cases, they have been forced to participate in the fighting and violence,” stated UNICEF’s representative in Iraq Peter Hawkins in a published statement on Monday.

UNICEF, the UN’s children’s organization, estimated that 100,000 children still remain in areas under ISIS control in western Mosul amid fighting that is “intensifying by the hour.”

The UN's office in Iraq believes there are approximately 180,000 civilians still living in the old city of western Mosul and almost half of those are children "without access to food and humanitarian assistance."

Last week, an Iraqi Federal Police officer told Rudaw that ISIS is deliberately bringing children with them as protection. “They are using children. When they are about to make some move, they bring children with them. This prevents airstrikes,” he said.

An estimated 70 people were killed in the neighbourhoods of Zanjali and Saha over the last five days. Some died being used as human shields and others were killed by ISIS, Rudaw’s Hunar Ahmed reported.

Civilians who do flee are hungry. ISIS controls what food is left, reserving it for their militants, selling it to civilians for a high price.

Hawkins called on all attacks on civilians and sites like hospitals, schools, homes, and water systems to stop.

Qasim Maliki, commander of the army’s 9th Division, said safe corridors for civilians fleeing ISIS must be established before they begin an assault on Old Mosul. They have dropped leaflets to let them know escape routes, Maliki explained.

Between 10,000 and 15,000 civilians arrive at displacement camps every day, the UN stated last week.