London- UNICEF has warned that children in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul have paid a “terrible price” in the battles between Iraqi forces and ISIS.
“Although the battle for Mosul is coming to an end, children’s deep physical and mental scars will take time to heal. Some 650,000 boys and girls, who have lived through the nightmare of violence in Mosul, have paid a terrible price and endured many horrors over the past three years,” Hamida Ramadhani, UNICEF’s Deputy Representative in Iraq, said Thursday.
“Some children continue to suffer in the pockets of violence that persist in the old part of west Mosul. One doctor we spoke to told us that infants as young as one week old, children and mothers were emerging wounded and covered in dust and soil, some were malnourished. The toll children are paying from living for nearly ten months under heavy fighting,” Ramadhani said in a statement.
Iraq declared victory over ISIS in Mosul this week after a nearly nine-month battle. But pockets of Mosul remain insecure.
“In the past three days, UNICEF and its partners have seen an increase in the number of extremely vulnerable unaccompanied children arriving at medical facilities and reception areas. Some babies brought in have been found alone in the debris,” said Ramadhani.
UNICEF reiterated its call on all parties to the conflict “to treat all children as children, wherever they are born, whoever they belong to.”
“Now is the time for them to recover, overcome their trauma, reunite with their families and reclaim some of their lost childhood,” it said.
The agency said it has managed along with its partners to reunify 1,333 unaccompanied or separated children from Mosul with their families.
“As they return to their homes, children, some of whom have not been in a classroom for three years, will need to restart formal education, or we risk losing an entire generation. To date, UNICEF has supported the reopening of 470 schools in east and west Mosul,” it added.