The United Nations has said up to 150,000 civilians are still trapped in Mosul’s old city where Iraqi forces’ battle to retake the area has entered its final stages. ISIS fighters are reportedly shooting at anyone trying to flee. Civilians are also facing a shortage of food with many dying of starvation. The world is clearly turning a blind eye to the plight of civilians stuck in this war zone and the desperate humanitarian situation there. Towards the end of last month, Iraqi forces had dropped leaflets urging civilians to leave the ISIS-controlled areas of the city. But detecting civilians before Okaying strikes is not easy, therefore it would have been better had the Iraqi forces made arrangements to shift the civilians to safe places prior to encircling the Old City.
Civilians can be evacuated but for this to happen safe passages are needed. For now, what we know is that the civilians are stuck inside their homes and they are targeted by snipers when they try to get out. According to reports coming in from the war-torn region, some locals have resorted to drinking sewage water. This is a humanitarian crisis and warrants immediate attention from the international community. Sadly global media appears to have lost interest in what seems to be a never-ending war.
Western governments would have us believe that they have triumphed and that the battle against ISIS is entering its final stages in both Iraq and Syria. Yet the civilians who remain stuck and at risk in this de facto battlefield have largely dropped off the radar; their citizens back home long de-sensitised by wars launched in their names. The victory against ISIS should not come at the cost of loss of civilian lives. Western leaders who lecture other countries on human rights should walk the walk and confront the gross human rights violations taking place in Iraq and Syria on an emergency basis. Human assistance is needed immediately and the world should speed up efforts to make sure civilians living in areas under ISIS control are safely relocated and the food emergency is tackled. *