Preemptive Love Coalition, one of the few NGOs that operate inside Iraq’s Mosul city, urged aid groups to deliver direct humanitarian assistance not only to civilians that are displaced by the conflict outside of the city, but also to families trapped inside Mosul.
Matthew Willingham, the Senior Field Editor for the Preemptive Love Coalition, said in an interview with ARA News that civilians inside Mosul need urgent medical aid.
“We are providing front-line emergency aid in recently liberated communities in and around Mosul. This includes food, toiletries, heaters and blankets, medical care, and more,” Willingham said.
However, the NGOs are not providing aid to the tens of thousands of families that are choosing to stay in their homes, following the advice of the Iraqi government.
“Before the Mosul campaign began, the UN and other humanitarian players were warning of a looming humanitarian disaster that would likely displace over a million people,” Willingham told ARA News. “Today, we are months into the campaign and the number of displaced is still far from a million, but we believe need shouldn’t be measured by displacement alone.”
“Tens of thousands of families—maybe even hundreds of thousands—are choosing to stay in their homes after their towns and villages are freed from ISIS control,” he said.
“So aid groups have to make a choice: will they stay in safer fall-back positions and continue helping people who do leave their homes, or will they also go to the people who aren’t leaving their homes who also need urgent aid? In some cases, families in Mosul are choosing to not leave their homes out of fear of reprisals. In other cases, they aren’t allowed to leave. Regardless, it’s our responsibility to reach them,” he said.
There are very few NGOs providing aid directly inside Mosul, due to security restrictions and the ongoing battle between US-backed Iraqi forces and ISIS extremists. As a result, most of the aid is going to the 100,000 that are displaced by the conflict, but not to the people inside the city of Mosul.
Civilians in Mosul have been suffering lack of healthcare since there are almost no medical facilities helping them out amidst the ongoing battle. Furthermore, ISIS has been targeting civilians that flee Mosul, considering them traitors, which has caused many civilians deaths.
“From what we’ve seen, healthcare for civilians in Mosul is almost nonexistent. Military doctors provide some services, but they can only do so much,” Willingham told ARA News. “We are working to relaunch two medical centers inside Mosul city limits, both of which will provide emergency care for families fleeing violence, help deliver babies, and prescribe and offer medications for chronic illnesses, just to name a few services.”
Therefore, Willingham said there is a need for more aid and international support. “This goes back to the problem of waiting in fall-back positions versus going to the people. The breech of trust between Maslawi civilians and the militias, the Iraqi military, and the international community is no small thing. We can not wait for families in war zones to come to us. It’s our job to find creative ways to reach and serve the people of Mosul, in their own neighborhoods,” he concluded.