As fighting in the Iraqi city of Mosul intensifies, UNHCR is on the ground, helping families trapped inside the conflict zone and providing emergency shelter for those who have managed to flee the city. 

Since the start of the military offensive to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul from militant control, more than 160,000 people have fled to camps run or supported by UNHCR. For months, our Emergency Response Teams have been on the ground erecting tents, distributing survival kits and ensuring displaced families access to food, water and electricity.    

Haytham and his son collect their core relief items at Hasansham camp, in northern Iraq. They fled militant-held west Mosul 3 days before by crossing the Tigris river at night in a small wooden boat. Upon arrival at UNHCR’s Hasansham camp he said "I am so happy I could cry.”

Image © UNHCR/Ivor Prickett

Houda and her 6-year-old son Mourad carry some of the winter assistance items they received from UNHCR back to their tent. Houda and her 3 children, her brother Ahmad and their elderly father fled their home in Mosul arriving at Khazir 2 camp in northern Iraq 3 days later.

Image © UNHCR/Ivor Prickett

Now, for the first time, a UNHCR relief convoy has managed to reach families in the newly accessible neighbourhoods of eastern Mosul. Many of these people have been trapped in their houses for weeks as the fighting has raged around them with no electricity and dwindling supplies of food, water and medicines. The first UNHCR relief deliveries included thousands of winter items like blankets, quilts and kerosene. Security remains fragile in the eastern half of the city with intermittent shelling and gunfire, but further aid deliveries are expected in the coming weeks.

So far, relatively few families have managed to flee the western side of the city, with militant forces destroying or blocking the bridges over the Tigris River. There are also reports of people being executed or shot at while attempting to reach the eastern bank by boat. This exodus could quickly escalate however if Iraqi government forces continue their advance upon the city from the east.

In the camps, UNHCR remains on full alert, preparing to receive a sudden surge of displaced people as the battle for western Mosul intensifies. 

UNHCR runs four large displacement camps in the region to the north and east of Mosul and is supporting operations at another seven sites. We have provided emergency shelter for over 160,000 people since the fighting in Mosul began but believe that much more will be needed in the weeks ahead. 

Your donation today can help shelter and protect families escaping from Mosul and bring life-saving relief to those still trapped inside the city.

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People cross a destroyed bridge that connects the neighbourhood of Al Sukar with the rest of the East of Mosul. Some citizens flee the recently liberated area while others return to salvage whatever is left of their belongings.

Image © UNHCR/Ivor Prickett

Trapped Mosul civilians in dire need of relief

“We knew it was dangerous but we had to come to this side,” he said. “My family is still on the other side. The price of food there is so expensive, there is no power, no water, no gasoline.”

As darkness fell over Mosul, Saad*, 45, put his injured son on his back and clambered over the ruined remains of a bridge over the Tigris River in a desperate attempt to reach the government-controlled east.

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