The Battle for Mosul, Iraq
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 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.