DRC urges int’l community to focus on Mosul IDPs, returnees, and protection of civiliansDRC International and Regional Directors visit Iraq to assess Mosul response: “If we fail to get it right, we fail Iraqis.”
With the majority of humanitarian work rightly focusing on the 60,000 Iraqis displaced in the first month of the Mosul operations, DRC urges the international community to also start looking at returnees. “If we fail this, we fail Iraqis,” said DRC International Director, Ann Mary Olsen.
“DRC sees a tremendous need to increase the efforts of reconciliation, recovery and long-term engagement even at this early stage in the Mosul response, and is committed to partner throughout this process,” she added.
As many as 85 percent of IDPs are currently living in camps and informal settlements and as the fighting continues to push towards densely populated areas inside Mosul, civilians are fleeing the city and its environs as well as returning to territory retaken from the so-called Islamic State.
The statement came during a mission to Iraq by Mrs. Olsen and MENA Region Director Peter Klansø from November 15 – 18 to assess the humanitarian response as well as needs on the ground relating to the current crisis through site visits and meetings with community leaders, government authorities and donors.
“We are impressed by the preparedness effort so far on Mosul, from the UN, NGOs and government,” Mrs. Olsen said following a trip to Qayyarah, in southern Ninewa. “But as much as humanitarian issues and displacement from Mosul are current priorities, IDP returns and early recovery are just around the corner.”
Civilians are already returning to areas retaken by security forces, and many others have expressed a desire to return home, however towns and villages remain contaminated by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and other explosive remnants of war (ERWs), which pose serious risks to those going back home.
“Safe return is contingent upon adequate clearing of IEDs and other explosives and the current capacity to cope with the scale of the problem requires urgent attention,” said Klansø, who added that protection of IDPs remains a grave concern of humanitarian organisations.
“As the worst is still to come, it is important we keep particular focus on the protection of civilians as the fight moves closer into central Mosul.” he continued.
DRC has been committed to its role as a first-line responder in the Mosul response and will continue to be a partner in recovery and future efforts at reconciliation and long-term engagement in Iraq. As more Iraqis are displaced, DRC will continue to monitor and evaluate ways to ensure the best integrated response.