For more than a hundred thousand Iraqi civilians still trapped inside ISIS controlled portions of Mosul, threats of death from coalition air strikes or Islamist Extremists aren’t the only things to worry about, as resources continue to dwindle.
“There is hardly any food, water, electricity, fuel. These civilians are living in an increasingly worsening situation of penury and panic because they are surrounded by fighting.” United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) representative in Iraq, Bruno Geddo explained.
“These civilians are basically held as human shields in the Old City,” Geddo said of Mosul.
ISIS has been herding civilians into their operational areas as part of an effort to shield themselves from attack, using them as human shields against Iraqi Security Forces and counting on their presence to limit the effectiveness of coalition air strikes. Repeated reports of ISIS fighters gunning down men, women, and children in the streets as they attempt to flee combat zones have demonstrated that, for these desperate people, their only hope is a swift conclusion to the fight against ISIS.
“The civilian population is being moved by fighters with them to be used as human shields, and… ISIS snipers continue to aim at people trying to flee,” Geddo told reporters at the Palais des Nations. “They are risking their lives if they stay and if they flee.”
Iraqi forces successfully retook the eastern portion of Mosul, ISIS’ defacto capital in Iraq, this January. The offensive to retake the older, western portion of the city started nearly a month later, and has seen slow progress due to the narrow streets and heavy fighting.