Trapped Mosul civilians could face worst humanitarian catastrophe, warns UN

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Displaced Iraqis who had fled their homes are seen at Hammam al-Alil camp south of Mosul, Iraq on Tuesday. (Reuters)
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Iraqi civilians flee the al-Abar neighborhood in west of Mosul, as Iraqi forces battle to recapture the city from Daesh jihadists on April 13, 2017. (AFP / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE)
Updated 19 April 2017

Trapped Mosul civilians could face worst humanitarian catastrophe, warns UN

IRBIL: The battle to dislodge Daesh from the Old City of Mosul, where hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians are trapped, could turn into the worst humanitarian catastrophe in the war against the militants, the UN warned on Tuesday.

About 400,000 civilians, or a quarter of Mosul’s pre-war population, are trapped in the Old City, according to UN estimates. As many as half a million are estimated to remain overall in neighborhoods still under Daesh control in western Mosul.

“If there is a siege and hundreds of thousands of people don’t have water and don’t have food, they will be at enormous risk,” UN humanitarian coordinator for Iraq Lise Grande told Reuters. “We could be facing a humanitarian catastrophe, perhaps the worst in the entire conflict.”

Iraqi government forces have taken back most of the city in a US-backed offensive launched in October, including the half that lies east of the Tigris River.

The militants are now surrounded in the northwestern quarter including the historic Old City, countering the offensive with booby traps, suicide motorbike attacks, sniper and mortar fire, occasionally using shells filled with toxic gas.

“It is a deteriorating situation, we fear for the lives of the 400,000 people in the old city,” said Grande.

“Families ... tell us that they are being shot at as they are escaping. It’s terrifying.” Residents who have managed to escape from the Old City have said there is almost nothing to eat but flour mixed with water and boiled wheat grain. What little food remains is too expensive for most residents to afford, or kept for Daesh members and their supporters.

The narrow alleyways of the Old City restrict the use of suicide cars by the militants and tanks, armored personnel carriers and Humvees by the government forces.

“The security forces know the situation on the ground and they need to decide how this is best done, whether by evacuating civilians or protecting them in their homes or opening routes they can escape through,” said Grande.

 

 


Turkey detains Kurdish opposition members over terrorism links

Updated 01 October 2020

Turkey detains Kurdish opposition members over terrorism links

  • The detainees included local party heads from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and municipality council members in the province

ISTANBUL: Turkish authorities detained 19 people including two Kurdish deputy mayors in the northeastern province of Kars as part of a terrorism related operation, state-owned Anadolu news agency said on Thursday.
The detainees included local party heads from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and municipality council members in the province, Anadolu said.
The authorities detained suspects as they were determined to have aided Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) members, attended meetings and operated under their orders, Anadolu said.
Last week, the HDP mayor of Kars along with dozens others were detained over violent protests in 2014 against an attack on the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani.
President Tayyip Erdogan’s government accuses the HDP of having links to the PKK militant group, leading to prosecutions of thousands of its members and some leaders. The HDP denies such links.
Since March 2019 local elections, mayors have been replaced by trustees in more than half of the roughly 65 municipalities won by the HDP. Ankara has appointed governors and other local authorities as trustees in those districts.
The former co-leaders of the HDP have both been jailed since 2016 on terrorism charges, with several other prominent party members accused of supporting terrorism over what the government says are links to the PKK.