The United Nations announced Tuesday that it is not wasting time on preparing emergency aid for hundreds of thousands of endangered civilians in Mosul with an Iraqi army offensive looming to drive ISIS hardliners from the western half of the city.
U.N. officials estimate 750,000 people remain in Mosul west of the Tigris River that flows through the last remaining major ISIS-held urban center in Iraq, after a series of government counter-offensives in the country’s north and west.
“We are racing against the clock to prepare for this,” U.N. humanitarian coordinator Lise Grande told Reuters. Humanitarian agencies were setting up displaced people camps accessible from western Mosul and pre-positioning supplies in them, she said.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi confirmed on Tuesday that government forces had taken complete control of eastern Mosul, 100 days after the start of the U.S.-backed campaign to retake Iraq’s second largest city from ISIS militants who seized it in 2014.
“The reports from inside western Mosul are distressing,” she said in a separate statement. “Prices of basic food and supplies are soaring…Many families without income are eating only once a day. Others are being forced to burn furniture to stay warm.”
He also said new U.S. President Donald Trump has sent messages offering to increase the level of assistance to Iraq. Trump has made the fight against ISIS a foreign policy priority.
The new U.S. administration under Donald Trump has sent messages offering to increase the level of assistance to Iraq, Iraqi state television cited Abadi as saying on Tuesday.
Trump has made the fight against ISIS, the hardline group that declared a self-styled “caliphate” over parts of Syria and Iraq in 2014, a priority for his administration.
A U.S.-led coalition is already providing critical support to an offensive by Iraqi forces to take back Mosul, the largest city under control of ISIS. The U.S. is also providing financial support to Iraq.