Baghdad, Mosul – Iraqi Minister of Immigration Jassem al-Jaff strongly criticized UN efforts to aid civilians fleeing west Mosul due to severe fighting, while the international organization stressed that such assistance was its “top priority”.
Tens of thousands of people have fled west Mosul since Iraqi forces launched an operation to retake it from the ISIS on February 19.
“Unfortunately, there is a clear shortfall in the work of these (UN) organizations,” the Iraqi minister added.
“The United Nations talks a lot but the efforts being made are little, despite the huge amount of money in their possession,” he added.
For its part, the UN said it was working as fast as possible to help those displaced.
The organization has been providing shelter, food and other assistance to Iraqis who have fled Mosul during the nearly five-month-long battle.
UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq Lise Grande said: “The top priority for humanitarians is to make sure that there is sufficient capacity at emergency sites to deal with the number of civilians who are fleeing western Mosul.”
On a different note, Reuters reported on Saturday that twelve people, including women and children, were being treated for possible exposure to chemical weapons agents in Mosul.
Reuters quoted the World Health Organization (WHO) as saying in a statement that it has activated with partners and local health authorities “an emergency response plan to safely treat men, women and children who may be exposed to the highly toxic chemical.”
The statement added that all 12 patients had been received since March 1 for treatment, which they are undergoing in Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdish region, east of Mosul.
Four of them are showing “severe signs associated with exposure to a blister agent.” The patients were exposed to the chemical agents in the eastern side of Mosul.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Friday that five children and two women were receiving treatment for exposure to chemical agents.