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Immediate safe routes out of Mosul needed for civilians to escape fighting

3 November 2016 - As Iraqi forces enter the outskirts of Mosul, amid reports of ISIL using families as human shields, Christian Aid is calling for all sides to the fighting to respect international law and allow immediate safe passage for those trapped in the city and seeking to flee.

More than 18,000 people have fled since the start of the offensive to retake Mosul two weeks ago from towns in the region, yet the 1.5 million people in the city are prevented from leaving. Iraqi coalition forces have recaptured nearby districts and villages on the march to the city, including the Christian town of Qaraqosh.

Frances Guy, Christian Aid’s Head of Region for the Middle East said: “The charred remains of the church at Qaraqosh are a symbolic reminder of the damage that has been done to the multi-religious fabric of Iraq over the last few years.

“The liberation of Christian, Shabak and Turkmen towns highlights the multi-religious make up of Iraq.  The opportunity to rebuild a lost harmony must not be thrown away in a potential rush for revenge.

“Civilians are caught in the middle of an increasingly complicated conflict with different forces on all sides of the city and little concern for humanitarian principles.

“Whilst we welcome the return of the sound of church bells to the Eastern approaches to Mosul, we urge all sides to the fighting to respect international humanitarian law and allow for the immediate safe passage of civilians seeking to flee deadly fighting.”

A spokesperson for a Christian Aid partner organisation based in Iraq has described the situation in Mosul as terrifying; “They are terrified of the shelling, they are trapped at home, they cannot leave the city because of ISIL.”

Mosul, a centre for ancient cultures and trade has been devastated since it was captured two years ago. ISIL has controlled all movement in and out of the city, enforcing high taxes resulting in soaring unemployment and sky high prices for basic food stuffs making it near impossible for people to feed their families.  ISIL initiated their own school curriculum, so many families had stopped sending their children to school.

People that can flee often leave suddenly with few belongings, desperate to find a safe place away from aircraft and shelling, or any kind of threat on their life.  Many families have fled to Dabaga camp and Qayyarah where Christian Aid partners have been providing urgent aid over the last few months.  They are ready to support thousands fleeing violence in the battle for Mosul with food distributions, which is the priority need.

Christian Aid has reached more than 242,000 people, with food, clothes, hygiene kits, health services and cash assistance since the launch of the Iraq appeal in 2014.

You can find out more about the appeal or donate here

ENDS

If you would like further information or to arrange an interview with Frances Guy please contact Jo Rogers on 07969 083 371 and jrogers@christian-aid.org (put your contact details in here). 24 hour press duty phone – 07850 242950


Notes to editors: 

1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 40 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.

2. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended: this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, sustainably. Our strategy document Partnership for Change explains how we set about this task.

3. Christian Aid is a member of ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development. 

4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire

5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid, visit http://www.christianaid.org.uk

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