Geneva/Baghdad –The ICRC is alarmed by the situation of tens of thousands of civilians trapped in Mosul as military operations intensify in the densely populated old town.
Civilians in particular must be allowed to leave the area to seek medical care.
"It is crucial that wounded civilians in the conflict areas be evacuated without delay to the nearest medical facility," said the ICRC's Head of Delegation in Iraq, Katharina Ritz.
The flow of wounded civilians out of west Mosul has increased in recent days. About 90 percent of victims seen by the ICRC's surgical team have wounds from gunshots, shelling, and bombs.
"We're seeing dozens of new patients a day, including children and the elderly. For a heartbreakingly high number, it was simply too late; they died soon after reaching us," said Dr. Julia Schürch, an ICRC emergency room specialist deployed in west Mosul.
"Why didn't they come sooner?" Schürch continued. "Residents are being forced to make impossible life and death choices as they seek to flee the violence."
According to international humanitarian law (IHL), the wounded and sick must receive, to the fullest extent practicable and with the least possible delay, the required medical care. The ICRC reminds all parties to the conflict that all feasible precautions must be taken to avoid and minimize the incidental loss to civilian lives and damage to civilian objects.
"The close proximity of fighters and non-combatants in Mosul increases the need for all to invest more efforts to ensure that civilians are protected," said Ritz.
A special ICRC report on urban warfare released last week found that civilian deaths due to armed conflict inside cities in Syria, Yemen and Iraq amounted to 47 percent of all civilians killed worldwide in armed conflicts.
The ICRC has been providing assistance to the affected population since the start of the Mosul operation. More than 1 million people, including IDPs and host communities, have received food, relief items, clean water, medicine, and emergency medical treatment.
Notes to editors and media assets :
A Broll from West Mosul, with footage from casualties being treated at Mosul General Hospital, will be available later today on ICRC Media room: www.icrcnewsroom.org
For further information, please contact:
Sarah Alzawqari, ICRC Baghdad, tel: +964 790 191 6927
Ralph El Hage, ICRC Amman, tel: +962 77845 4382
Iolanda Jaquemet, ICRC Geneva, +41 79 447 37 26