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The Battle for Mosul, Iraq
Emergency Update

More than 91,000 people in Iraq have fled their homes since the military offensive to retake Mosul began on October 17, 2016. Fears of an even larger humanitarian crisis remain high in Iraq, with as many as one million people trapped inside the city of Mosul—out of reach of humanitarian aid, trying to survive on what little they have left and hoping to escape the violence.

Hospitals near the frontlines of the fight are destroyed or inaccessible, which means a critically injured person able to flee Mosul needs to be transported to hospitals in Ninewa governorate or Erbil for care—a drive that could be two hours or more. With increased demand for transport, the wait times for an ambulance can be excruciatingly long. To help increase their chance for survival, trauma care and stabilization of civilians injured in the crossfire remains a critical need in and around the city of Mosul.

Healthcare facilities—along with the doctors, nurses, and others who provide care and services at the facilities—are struggling to keep up with the influx of patients with war-related injuries. In Ninewa, which is now hosting the majority of those who have fled the violence in Mosul, health services are already overwhelmed, and the main hospital in Erbil is also being stretched by the increased caseload.

Recent Highlights from Our Response Efforts

International Medical Corps is providing medical services, mental health and psychosocial care, supporting the survivors of gender-based violence, and providing other services that help protect the health and well-being of families forced to flee their homes due to conflict.

As one part of our much larger health program, International Medical Corps was the first and, to date, remains the only international non-governmental organization to operate a trauma stabilization point that provides frontline care for war-wounded children, women, and men fleeing the fighting in Mosul. With the ability to provide screening and triage, stop the bleeding, provide IV fluids, and other vital medical support, receiving care at a trauma stabilization point can sometimes mean the difference between life and death for a critically injured patient.

Working in support of Iraq’s national and local health authorities, International Medical Corps opened a trauma stabilization unit located approximately 10 miles from the outskirts of Mosul city in late November 2016. The International Medical Corps’ team operated the unit for two weeks to help scale up capacity prior to transferring operations to the Ninewa Directorate of Health. In that time, eighty-two percent of patients suffered from a traumatic war-related injury or another emergency medical condition that required referral to a hospital for treatment.

As additional parts of Mosul are retaken and the frontlines move further into the city, International Medical Corps is poised to shift trauma stabilization efforts to new areas where the wounded are being evacuated.

International Medical Corps is also providing medical care and other support for those who have fled further from the frontlines. At Khazer, a government-run camp of approximately 30,900 internally displaced persons, International Medical Corps has delivered more than 3,200 patient consultations at its primary health clinic and is also working to promote good hygiene practices and available health services through its cadre of community health workers. International Medical Corps is also providing primary health services in Fadhilya, Baybook village, Gogchaly, and Jeddah-Qayyarah camp, as well as for people living in the town of Jeddah.

With programs in seven of Iraq’s 18 governorates, International Medical Corps is providing medical services, mental health and psychosocial care, supporting the survivors of gender-based violence, and providing other services that will help protect the health and well-being of families forced to flee their homes due to conflict across the country.

Mosul Overview

Mosul had a population of around two million people when ISIL fighters captured the city in June 2014. About half a million residents fled rather than face being forced to live under the uncompromising brutality of ISIL rule.

The stakes in the battle for Mosul are high. For ISIL, the city has served as an anchor in Iraq to balance the group’s Syrian stronghold of Raqqah, a major city about 50 miles south of the Turkish border. For the Government of Iraq, retaking Mosul would mean regaining control of its second-largest city, a hub of key industrial and trade significance.


Years of war, insurgency and bitter sectarian violence in Iraq has taken its toll on the country.

  • Over 107,000 people have fled Mosul district and surrounding areas since October 17. Some one million people are estimated to be trapped in Mosul city, with no access to aid.
  • More than 3.1 million Iraqis are displaced from their homes due to conflict and more than 10 million, nearly a third of Iraq’s population, need some form of humanitarian assistance.
  • Over 8 million people are thought to be critically in need of access to lifesaving healthcare services.
  • Civilian trauma injuries are increasing, with 1,246 people injured by gunshots, mines, shelling, and mortar fire from October 17th to November 30th.
  • International Medical Corps is providing health care and other emergencies services to those displaced and affected by the battle for Mosul.
  • International Medical Corps has five offices in Iraq: Baghdad, Erbil, Tikrit, Habbaniya and Dohuk. It began its work in Iraq in 2003 and today operates in seven of the country’s 18 governorates, helping around 650,000 people each month.

Our Programs


Our teams provide direct assistance to those who need it most while also bolstering local health systems and boosting capacity in refugee camps and in the wider community. We provide primary health care and basic reproductive health services in refugee and displacement camps in Erbil, Dohuk, and Ninewa governorates. We also support those living in hard-to-reach or medically underserved areas through our mobile medical units (MMUs).

Specifically, for the Mosul response, we are providing primary health care, trauma triage, and mass casualty management as well as emergency rape case management, mental health support, and other essential health services. We also continue to help to strengthen the capacity of community-based primary health care centers and hospitals to manage the increased demand for health care.

Community Health

We train and support a network of community health workers (CHWs) to help provide an essential link between patients and primary health care service providers. Our community health workers reach out to those children, women, and men who otherwise might be unable to access the health, mental health and psychosocial support, or gender-based violence services we provide.

Mental Health and Psychosocial Support

International Medical Corps places a particular priority on integrating mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) services into the basic health care services offered to internally displaced Iraqis. This emphasis is due to the limited nature of many of these services within Iraq, such as case management and clear referral pathways to specialized services. To fill this critical gap, International Medical Corps provides services including case management, outreach through CHWs and psychiatric consultations. In addition, International Medical Corps experts provide psychological first aid training to other responding organizations so that they also have the skills to support the basic psychological well-being of vulnerable families fleeing Mosul.

Gender Based Violence

International Medical Corps is a principal implementer of gender-based violence (GVB) interventions in Iraq. Our experience has proven that a community-led process is vital to ensure local residents embrace and support our services, and is key to engaging government and community leadership—something that leads to lasting impact. In remote areas, our team offers GBV services through our mobile units and creates safe spaces for women. GBV outreach workers run community-based prevention and response campaigns, identify vulnerable women and girls, inform them of available services and make referrals if needed.

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Iraq Capabilities Statement

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